Advent Day 18: Game Changing Inclusion

*photo above: Ashah taking in the sights from the “Top of the Rock” (Rockefeller Center’s observation deck) on our recent vacation in NYC

The only thing more boring than being asked to look at someone else’s vacation pictures is…

Being asked to listen to a description of someone else’s genealogy.

Indulge me for a moment.

Most of us skip over the first chapter of Matthew because, genealogy. It’s a list of names.

And if you read it in the old King James Version, it uses that wonderful term “begat.” Abraham begat Isaac.

How’d he do that? Haha. OK, maybe that’s another post for another time.

Well, actually, it’s kinda crucial to the point of this post… so here we go with the procreating explanation:

Abraham did not begat Isaac by himself. No sir. He had some help. In fact, he did very little to begat. Sure, he contributed, but it was Abraham’s wife who did all the heavy lifting (carrying, pushing, birthing, feeding, etc.).

The Old Testament’s pattern of genealogy lists is patriarchal. They are lists of dudes. That’s the way the culture was back then.

But in Matthew’s genealogy of Christ, we see a game-changing inclusion. Women are named. Tamar. Rahab. Ruth. Bathsheba. Mary.

This is a radical departure from the way things had always been.

Matthew continues to highlight this great reversal – in the last chapter, it is women leading the way. Women were the first ones to arrive at the tomb of Jesus. Women first experience the risen Christ. Women are told “go and tell” – commissioned to announce (preach) the good news of the living Savior.

In a time and culture where the testimony of a woman was not even considered to be half that of a man’s and where women were not allowed as far into the temple as a man, this is a seismic shift. Game-changing inclusion.

Going back to the genealogy, we also see the inclusion of non-Jewish people (Gentiles). Tamar the Canaanite. Rahab the Canaanite. Ruth the Moabite. Bathsheba who was married to Uriah the Hittite (which means Bathsheba was probably a Hittite).

Not only does the genealogy of Christ include non-Jewish people, but so does his ministry, his sacrifice on the cross, his invitation to the table, and his welcome into the family of God. Game-changing inclusion.

Finally, within the genealogy of Christ, we see the dirty-messy-reality-of-life included. Tamar’s story is wilder than something you’d see on a daytime talk show (it includes pretending to be a prostitute and tricking her father-in law into impregnating her—ensuring that she would have a child, and thus, a place in the family).

Rahab is included in the genealogy and she wasn’t pretending to be a prostitute… she just was one. Rahab is also included in Hebrews chapter 11 (a listing of the Bible’s “Heroes of the faith”).

Bathsheba was the subject of King David’s lust and he had her brought to the palace so he could sleep with her (consent is an unlikely concept in this situation). She becomes pregnant. David has her husband killed and then marries her.

These are dirty-messy-reality-of-life stories and they are included.

Which makes me wonder…

Who is beyond God’s inclusion?

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. —Titus 2.11

I believe Christ came for all.

I do not believe in limited atonement (the belief held by Calvinists that essentially says Christ only died for some—those pre-chosen by God).

I believe Christ went to the cross and took on himself the sins of the world.

And this is the Good News.

We have been included.

When we label folks scum, it makes it all right to do anything we want to them. Who doesn’t belong? We try and imagine Jesus compiling a list of those who should not make the cut, but we come up short. We can’t think of anybody. The minute we accept this to be true, we will see racism, demonizing, and scapegoating dissipate in the wind like sand on a blustery day. What if we insisted that everyone belonged to us? “I am the other you. You are the other me.” The invitation of Christ in me is to see Christ in you. There is no one outside of that way of seeing. —Father Greg Boyle

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note: I am thankful for Simon Phipps who wrote about the genealogy of Christ in such a non-boring way and sparking my interest.

I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

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