how do we in the church treat those outside the church?

this is a question that i have thought about more not working in the church, having more conversations with those outside the church–those for whom church has never been a part of their life, and thinking about how theology intersects with my everyday life and relationships.

so often we find an emphasis on belief, followed by behavior, that then leads to belonging….this approach works with the underlying idea that belief is of prime importance in christianity, followed by behavior, followed by belonging.
~peter rollins, the fidelity of betrayal, pages153and154.

belonging ,
these are all concepts we associate with church, with our faith.
but what order should they be in…what comes first?

in thinking about how these 3 intersect, i recall a conversation jay bakker (as told in the one punk under god series) had with a trans-gendered individual. the individual told of a church experience where the priest thanked the individual for coming but asked that the individual not come back. i couldn’t–and still can’t–shake that.
how can this person–this priest, this messenger of god–deny someone belonging?
and how can we–as a church–deny people belonging as well?
is it our beliefs and behavior that are central to our belonging?
or does our belonging shape our beliefs and our behavior?

it seems that the life of jesus was centered around belonging. jesus called the disciples to belong to something, to belong in relationship with him. jesus did not poll the disciples as to their beliefs–as to who ascribed to certain beliefs–and then choose accordingly. jesus did not choose based on behavior, either. jesus simply initiated a relationship of belonging.
behavior followed as the disciples spent more and more time with jesus.
and eventually, some even following jesus’ death and resurrection, the beliefs solidified.

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