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Inside / Outside

Many of you may be familiar with the late Herman Wouk. He wrote many familiar novels including The Winds of War, The Caine Mutiny, and a little less familiar novel Inside Outside, written in 1985. Wouk, who died in 2019 at the age of 102, looked at the relationships in families. He noted and explored the different dynamics of family depending upon whether the interaction was inside or outside the family.

We may not be as formal in naming it, but we too have rituals, communication styles, and information filters depending upon whether communication is inside or outside. There are many things I am happy to share, but likewise, many things that are “inside” and therefore not to be shared “outside.”

The church is the same. We are an extended family, hopefully one willing and eager to adopt others into the fold. As such, there are things that are “inside” and things that are “outside.” We are not called to be disingenuous, nor opaque, nor are we ever called to tolerate illegal, unethical behavior. But there is information and group dynamic better left “inside.” My grandmother would have expressed it thus, “don’t be hanging your dirty laundry out for the whole world to see.”

It appears that Jesus too was sensitive to the inside/outside dynamic. In “Luke” chapter 15 last week, Jesus clearly addresses Pharisees who are accusing him of eating with sinners. In the 16th chapter, which we will concern ourselves with this Sunday, Luke tells us up front that Jesus is talking to the disciples. Will the teaching be different? Will his tone be different? Yes and yes.

There are those who are “outside” the kingdom of heaven and those who are “inside.” It seems as though Jesus understands and has different ways of relating to and expectations for the different groups. I laughingly tell people that the First Grade was the four best years of my life. Okay, I’m exaggerating, it was only two. Still pulling your leg. But what if it had been four years?

There are different expectations for first and fourth graders. There are different expectations for those who are “outside” and those who are “inside.” For those inside, there are different expectations for those who have and should continue to be maturing. Jesus always accepts us just as we are, but sees us in ways we don’t see ourselves. He then invites us to become and to live into what he sees, urging us to catch a glimpse of the us through his eyes. Being in spiritual kindergarten for a number of years is not Jesus’ vision for his people.

Sunday, we’re moving from outside to inside. Jesus has a very difficult teaching in Luke 16. We’ll look at and see how it relates to us.

See you Sunday,


PS—Please bring me stories about or memories of Ruth Bronson in preparation for our celebration Oct. 23.

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