The Parables of Exclusion

There are a number of stories of exclusion that Jesus told.

The "Wise and Foolish Virgins" (Matthew 25:1-13), "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23), "The Rich Man" (Mark 10:17-22).

We normally take these stories to mean that there comes a time when the door will be shut, the party will begin, those who are inside will rejoice. And while that is true, I'm no longer sure that that's what Jesus is really saying.

I don't remember all of the details, but in Men's Bible Study a few weeks ago the question was asked, "what would you do if Jesus said to you, 'I never knew you?'" The first answer was, "Nothing. There's nothing you can do."

I had an epiphany and said, "On the contrary. I would say to Him, 'In November, 1978, at two in the morning, you called me and I have followed ever since. You invited me to this party. Now, it's your party, but if you want me to leave you're going to have to summon your bouncers."

In the same way, the "foolish" virgins should either have followed those who had lamps, or returned to the party once they had gotten more oil and pounded on the door until someone opened, even if it was the next day. It isn't as if that party will end.

I think we need to read these stories in light of the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter (Mt 15:21-28). She didn't give up, she didn't let go.

In the single-minded pursuit of God, you mustn't quit.

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