“I want to help turn outsiders into insiders.”
I’ve been enjoying being a leader at our church’s middle school camp this week. Definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done. And as I was running from chapel to our cabin to find one of my 6th grade crew, this phrase popped into my head. The night before, the guy I was running towards told me he felt isolated, without many friends.
So I wanted him to sit next to me and my crew of guys at chapel and couldn’t find him. So I started running. Running to see if he had left and to invite him to come back.
I couldn’t find him, but I found a bit of self realization as I was running. I felt a lot like the guy in Jesus’ parable who left the 99 sheep to go looking for that one lost outsider. I don’t think I’ve ever connected with a parable so closely before. To leave behind the folks who are there, those that you already have an in with, giving up time with them on hot pursuit of those far away.
I’ve realized that I’ve spent a good chunk of my life on the run. On the hot pursuit of outsiders. If I could sum up my life’s purpose — the purpose I’ve actually pursued and not the purpose I “want” — it’s this: “To help turn outsiders into insiders.”
Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much of my life as an outsider. Outside the cliques, outside the typical norm of society. And God has always been in hot pursuit of my life.
Jesus has always pursued the people everyone else cast off. Jesus took people that were outside the normal cliques — people like tax-collecting thieves, prostitutes and sinners — and built his own clique. But his clique included everyone. All the outsiders were insiders in Jesus’ clique. Like the land of misfit toys.
As I help lead these guys through middle school — already one year down out of three — I realize once again how much I want to be like Jesus. Middle school is already so full of cliques it’s not funny, but I am working on a new clique. A giant clique. A clique where every outsider is a full on insider.
Cliques like that have names. They’re called families. And family isn’t based on who you like, but who loves you. Family isn’t what you do, but who you are. Family isn’t picked or earned, it just sort of happens.
At the end of this run — the only measure of success I want to look back on is this: “Did I take outsiders — those far away from either God or society — and make them family?”
I don’t think there’s anything else more important. There’s nothing else I want to do with my life. Let’s build cliques like no one has ever done before.