Jesus was critical of the Pharisees for their exclusive attitudes. Jesus was called a “friend of sinners and tax collectors.” Are Jesus’ followers practicing Jesus’ attitude or that of the Pharisees when we consider who’s in and who’s out. Sometimes it seems that we’re more in line with the Pharisees. “Sinners” don’t feel as comfortable in our midst as they did with Jesus.

So, how do we practice the inclusion of Jesus, but simultaneously maintain community standards? We don’t want to become like the Pharisees, but we also don’t want to tolerate sin in the community. McLaren argues that there are two dangerous extremes: “the dangers of hostile exclusion and dangers of naive inclusion.”

McLaren concludes: “The kingdom of God, then, seeks, a third way: not exclusiveness and rejection on the one hand, and not foolish, self-sabotaging inclusion on the other hand, but rather purposeful inclusion. In other words, the kingdom of God seeks to include all who want to participate in and contribute to its purpose, but it cannot include those who oppose its purpose.”

What do you think of McLaren’s solution? Does it make sense? Does it help?