Fusion Value: inclusive
It seems the word ‘inclusive’ can conjure up many misunderstandings, prejudices and even judgements across the Church. It is a word that for many is controversial because the claims of Christ are very exclusive. It is the outworking and presentation of these claims by believers that cause the church to look fragmented and exclusive at times. Fusion, in endeavouring to live up to our name are looking to see all aspects of God’s church come together for the sake of student mission. This broad inclusivity reflects our desire to work meaningfully across the body of Christ, so this value is at the heart of our work and mission to students.
Following an inclusive God
Where the value of inclusivity has its greatest impact is not around the claims of Christ but through the invitation of Christ. ‘Come follow me’ is the slogan the Son bares, ‘Come back to me’ is the cry of the Father and ‘invite me to come’ is the longing of the Holy Spirit. Right at the heart of the Trinity was a desire not to stay as cosy community but to risk sharing life with creatures made in their image. ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us’. This high point of creation in Genesis one is the daring action of an inclusive God.
So we can see, this value of inclusivity doesn’t stem from a dictionary definition, it originates in the very heart, action and commitment of God – ‘that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’. The inclusive love of Christ, outworked in the most self sacrificial and extreme action through the cross.
An excluded woman included
What we really believe is always acted out in our lifestyle. The interaction Jesus had with the woman at the well in John 4 demonstrates the passion that God has for people. Here, all the cultural and historic reasons exist so that Jesus could have excluded her without anyone raising an eyebrow. This is why:
Due to historical racial hatred and tensions between the Jews and the Samaritans any interaction would be extremely unlikely. Historically and traditionally, Jewish men did not speak in public to women, even their own wives. For a rabbi, this restriction is even greater.
There is the inescapable hint of a disreputable life - “you have had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband”. Furthermore, compared to other interactions Jesus has with women in the bible, this is somewhat unique, she has not sought out Jesus, rather, it is Him who initiates the conversation.
From this brief interaction we can begin to grasp the magnitude of the extreme inclusivity of Christ that invites people to follow him and that cuts across race, culture, class, background and gender. The excluded are most definitely included in God’s Kingdom.
Recognising our exclusivity
Often our own exclusivity is less about doctrine and more about pride, fear of the unknown or of the other, subconscious prejudices and wanting to be in control. Unwittingly these have become coping mechanisms as we have negotiated life so far. Any path we take that elevates self preservation above self denial halts the transformative power of Christ working in us. The consequence is we settle in a smaller, more exclusive world, than God would have us live in.
Maybe, and most pertinently of all, our exclusivity stems from the fact we have yet to fully experience the grace of God in our lives, and to allow this revelation and experience to penetrate the very core of our beings. The freedom of knowing Christ and his acceptance of us leads us to accept others with out fear.
Compassion is a language most people understand, but is also a language that most of us need to become more fluent in. The only way to get better at it, is to practice it. Compassion is what love looks like in public. It is open to the other and easily trusting. It looks to see the best in people, believe the best in people and be the best to people. It’s what Christ looked like to the woman by the well.
Compassion could be seen as the value behind inclusivity. Fusion are finding ways through many partnerships and shared commitments for including thousands and thousands of students in, so they too can worship the Father in spirit and truth.
What Inclusive Student Mission Looks Like
Loveyouruni.org is a mission approach that at its heart is inclusive. It seeks to go, meet and speak to people where they are at. It means that Cell groups don’t just remain holy huddles but are openly and actively inclusive. Just as God took a risk sharing His life with us, he commands that we too continue to share our lives with others. This is what it means for Fusion to be inclusive:
- Partnering with as many churches, organisations and people as possible who see the need to serve one another in seeking first the Kingdom.
- Working alongside those in Student Unions and Institutions who don’t believe the exclusive claims of Christ, but are not against us.
- Demonstrating through words, works and wonders the compassion and kindness of God.
- Continually extending the invitation to thousands of students to come and follow Jesus regardless of their current lifestyle and beliefs.