I have two older cousins. They were always cooler than me. When they would come to visit, it was always awesome when they included me into their coolness. It made me feel like one of them. It made me feel cooler than I was. It is awesome to be included but there is one issue with the power of inclusion. Before I explain, read this week’s Bible text:
 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.  Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.”  And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him.  And they laid hands on him and seized him.  But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.  And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?  Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”  And they all left him and fled. (Mark 14:43-50 ESV)
Judas looked like the disciples. He was counted amongst them as ‘one of the twelve’. He even carried their money. In the opinion of the other 11, he was one of them…fully included. Yet, he wasn’t. Judas was never sold out to the cause. He was never a true follower of Christ.
The power of inclusion works both ways.
First, when a person is included, they feel accepted and even appreciated. It allows them access to the group. Spiritually, or even in church, when we include we show the love of Christ by accepting another person rather than putting up walls or building fences.
Second, and on the negative side, we must make sure our ‘inclusion’ never communicates the wrong thing. Judas could have thought that since he was ‘in the gang’ that he was a saved follower of Christ. Similarly, a person today could think that because we are an accepting church that their church attendance or involvement gains them inclusion into Christ when only a saving faith in Christ can do that.
Then we are to include and accept but we are to teach the gospel clearly and lovingly so that a person never sees our inclusion for more than it is. Let’s love people into the Kingdom thru inclusion rather than ‘into the church’ or ‘into the group’. Just because my cousins included me didn’t make me their brother. I was just a loved cousin.