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Have you ever been to someone’s home who had an extra hospitality gene? I have, and it was something I had to get used to. When I moved from Arizona to Texas I learned that “southern hospitality” was indeed a very real thing, something that I was thoroughly unaccustomed to.

I love hospitable people because that is not my natural inclination. I am, by nature, an excluder, not an includer. I’m okay with being alone and I just naturally assume that everyone else is too, but that’s not always the case. I’m so thankful for those inclusive people because they help me grow in places I’m weak in. God loves those people too.

When Jesus was on the earth he was very intentional with the people he chose to surround himself with. John 1 explains the process Jesus went through of assembling his ragtag group of disciples: he called includers first.

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Jesus didn’t call Peter, James, or John first, though they ended up being his go-to guys. He called the men he knew wouldn’t be able to contain the news. He called the people he knew would spread the word with reckless abandon.

When you look at each disciple, it’s clear that each one brought certain strengths to the team. Some were quiet while some were vocal, some needed to be in the forefront while others were okay with just being in the background. He celebrated each person’s strength and made sure each one had a place with him. Though they aren’t in the forefront of the gospels, I believe that Andrew and Phillip held a special place in Jesus’ heart because they were willing to include others.

Community seeks to find reasons to include, not exclude, others.

Jesus was a radical includer, but not all of the disciples were. There were times when the more vocal disciples decided to make it an “us versus them” situation, giving Jesus an opportunity to gently rebuke and correct their thinking, a rebuke I know all too well.

We are called to be includers just as Jesus was. If you’re an introvert, that’s awesome, I’m one too! But you can include other introverts in a way that works for you. Or you can find an extrovert counterpart to help you navigate through some of those pesky awkward situations. If you love people, then love people well and do what you can to draw them closer to Jesus. He is beckoning, wooing them to himself and we have the privilege of being part of that process.

Let’s choose to be includers today!


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