Inclusive Love or Exclusive Love?
"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love... Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." 1 John 4:7, 11-12 (NLT)
We all have seen that couple at the movies or out in public that is all over each other and oblivious to everyone else around them. Nobody observes that couple and says that's beautiful; instead they are usually grossed out. Instead of appearing loving, they appear self-absorbed. That is because love that isn't shared and that does not open up to others (inclusive) isn't love at all. Or picture a family who only opens their garage door to leave and come back home again. Within their walls, they are very loving, but if they never share that love with their neighbors, their neighbors would never describe them as neighborly or loving.
Love that stays closed off to others joining in (exclusive) cannot be love. That is because love is always about inviting in and not keeping out.
In the movie Forrest Gump, there is a scene where Forrest is trying to find a seat on the bus and every empty seat he moves to sit in, another student says, "Taken." Then finally there is Jenny, who says, "You can sit here."
We all exclude. We all reject people from our comfortable friend groups. We don't want them to ruin a good thing. We are afraid they may take attention away from us. It's just easier not to deal with another personality and so we make our circles tighter instead of opening them up. This is all motivated by selfishness instead of love.
The kind of love that is shared is the only true love (God's kind of love) that exists. Anytime a good thing (even a good relationship) is kept for only one or the few; it is selfishness. Next time you feel the urge to exclude, remember what love would do. Love would invite and include. Love would pull up an extra chair.
Lord Jesus, forgive me when I have been selfish and exclusive instead of loving and inclusive. Thank You that this work of love you are doing in my life will help me to reflect You to those who need You. Amen.