Why "All" just doesn't cut it anymore and why it never has

The word "all" gets used a lot in today's social rhetoric. For example, many people say "All Lives Matter" and most of them, I hope, do genuinely believe that every life is of sacred worth. So why should we specify individual groups of people? It's because throughout human history even if our intention is to really include "all", we fall short. Woefully short sometimes.

 Most of us are drawn to people who look like us, act like us and believe like us. Life is easier when you're around people with the same worldview. But here's the problem, and I'll start with my own denomination. The United Methodist's Church slogan is "Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors." Great slogan. For me, it reflects what I want to be about and is one of the rweasons I am United Methodist and believe in our denomination. But what about that time a person with blue hair walked through your church doors? Or what about the time a transgender individual comes in? The person who looks like they are about to go record a rap music video? Were we including them in our "Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors." Probably not. If we were going to pick who was going to visit our churches, that's not who we would choose. While many churches have made great strides in this area, we still have a long way to go. When we think of the word "all", we think of people who are like us. It's human nature, but for those of us who follow Jesus it should be pretty clear that we can't trust your human nature most of the time. We have to train our mind differently. We have to recognize that our own mind and our own way of seeing things is limited and in order to have a more complete view we need to be in relationship with those who see things different from us. Essentially, we have to allow our worldview to truly be a worldview and not just an individual view. That won't happen unless we relationally invest in other people outside our circle.

So, sociologically this may make sense, but as a pastor shouldn't I be writing about Biblical topics? Guess what? This is! To me, if you look at how Jesus interacted with people, this is undoubtedly a Biblical subject. Jesus lived in a divisive time.  Cultures--particularly the Jews and the Gentiles--didn't intersect. Jesus made it clear that had to end. To Jews, the lives of Gentiles didn't matter. Or look at the Samaritans. They were generally left out and considered outsiders, and yet Jesus wanted to make it known that they do matter. A whole group of people stood in a crowd and yet Jesus went to the person with leprosy, the person they all thought no longer mattered. They wanted Jesus' attention and thought they were all worthy of it, and He goes to the person who they would have left out. Nobody--not even other women--wanted to be seen with the woman at the well that Jesus finds, and yet He singles her out and shows them that she matters.

You see, when we say that "All Lives Matter" we can't then act surprised when that includes someone else and respond, "You mean them too?" Yes, them too. When we say "all" that doesn't just include people who look like us or talk like us. It includes the drug dealer. It includes the drug user. It includes the prostitute. It includes the pimp. It includes the gay teen. It includes the Muslim. It includes the transgender woman of color who fears she will be assaulted just for walking out in public as herself. It includes the elderly who can no longer get by on their own. It includes the terrorist. It includes the victim of the terrorists. It includes the person who taught the terrorist their warped and horrific beliefs. It includes the single mom. It includes the teen mom. It includes the person with more tattoos and piercings than fingers and toes. It includes the incarcerated. It includes the recently released who can't find a job. It includes the porn star. It includes the stripper. It includes the teen who is thinking of having an abortion and hopes their parents will never find out. It includes that really annoying neighbor who plays their guitar too loud. It includes the person with a fancy car who looks down on you for driving your Volvo. It includes the depressed. It includes the anxious. It includes the person you made fun of in high school. It includes the person who made fun of and even bullied you in high school. It includes the hipster with way-too-tight of jeans. It includes the Goth. It includes the person who has never felt like they fit in. It includes the Trump supporter. It includes the Clinton supporter. It includes the cop who shot someone dead. It includes the person the cop shot from shooting more people. It includes the homeless person who you think needs to get up and get a job. It includes the slumlord who perhaps put that homeless person out on the street. It includes Wall Street CEOs. It includes that fast-food worker who acts like they could care less about you waiting 10 minutes for food. It includes your friends. It includes your enemies. It includes everyone regardless of whether or not we are comfortable around them.

If any of these people are not included in our "all", then we, in fact, do not mean "all" and that is not the type of world Jesus has called us to live in.