Kenneth L. Samuel
"So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called 'the uncircumcision' by those are called 'the circumcision' – a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." - Ephesians 2:11-12
Standing on the plateaus of the status quo, we often fail to remember the struggles and the strife we endured to get there. This failure to remember is often the thing that disconnects us from the lives of others who are still struggling for inclusion and enfranchisement.
In rash criticisms of young people, sometimes adults fail to remember their own youthful impetuousness.
In reluctance to support policies that address the grievances of undocumented workers in America, sometimes American citizens fail to remember that we are actually a nation of immigrants.
In homophobic and heterosexist attitudes, sometimes African Americans fail to remember that at one time we too were not included, not affirmed and not welcomed.
The Apostle Paul wanted the gentile members of his churches to never forget that they were once considered the outcasts, the untouchables, the aliens of the Judeo-Christian faith because of their uncircumcision.
Why was it so important for the gentile Christians to remember their struggle for inclusion?
Perhaps because Paul had some inkling that the whole history of the Christian church would be the story of various people's struggles to be included, to be accepted and to be welcomed as equals at the Lord's table. The full inclusion of gentiles, women, Protestants, left-handed people, blacks and LGBT persons are all epic and ongoing developments in the life of Christianity.
Inclusion of "the other" is the real content of church history and Christian theology. And it is also the real content of American democracy.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for all our accomplishments. Now please make us mindful of our struggles. And in remembering our struggles, give us compassion for the struggles of others. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.