Thinking about my extended family, those people who are some how related to me by blood or marriage, I wonder, who’s not needed? Who can we do without?
In my extended family there are those I disagree with; those who have offended me; those who have hurt me or someone I love. There are those I haven’t seen for many years; those whom I’ve never met; those whose names I have forgotten.
Yet, even if I had the power, there is not one person in my wide, wonderful and weird family that I could definitively say are simply not needed.
Everyone is needed in some way to someone and for that reason alone I could never say someone is not needed.
A metaphor that is often used for the Church is family. And we could ask ourselves the same question: who’s not needed?
Just like my extended family there are those with whom we disagree; or who’ve offended us; or who’ve caused hurt; or who we’ve not seen for a long time; or that we’ve never met; or whose names we’ve forgotten. Yet we know, at the core of our being, each one is needed.
Even if we think they are sinners, atheists, agnostic, naïve, doubters, lost: each one is needed. For each of these groups of people make us better (and I might have forgotten some). We actually need them. My faith is better, maybe even stronger, when I’m with an atheist. Faith is tempered, made stronger, when so challenged.
I don’t object to thinking about Jesus Christ as a “personal savior,” but that’s not what the Bible tells us. The Bible is clear that salvation is a whole-world kind of thing. My salvation is not the issue, our salvation is, and not that everyone has to believe the same thing, but that we recognize our kinship and act on it. As if everyone is needed in this, our extended family.
There are some ideologies that are not welcome and that we fight against. Neo-Nazism for example. And it is not that those who espousing such beliefs are not welcome, they are, but their ignorance is not. Redemption is possible for everyone and anyone. And redemption transformers people and communities. Thank God!