Friday, July 18, 2008

Country Club Religion

My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

                        Matthew 11:30

Not Our Kind, Dear

When the Los Angeles Country Club rejected Groucho Marx’s membership application, he was outraged. Regardless of his genius and popularity, being a Jew made him NOKD—snooty shorthand for “Not our kind, dear.” But, true to form, Groucho had the last laugh. When he later resigned from the Friar’s Club, instead of citing his real reasons, he shamed the LACC: “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me.”

It doesn’t take a psychology degree to realize that exclusion is the product of insecurity and fear. The world teems with organizations—from secret political societies to street gangs—founded on the principles of letting only “their kind” in and keeping all others out. It’s their way of recasting God’s world in their image and to their liking. His world is too threatening and unpredictable.

Admissions Requirements

This NOKD mentality isn’t confined to elitists and thugs. Unfortunately, it seeps into arenas of faith. Groups of believers teach God’s unconditional love. But compulsion to stick with their own kind goads them to devise their own conditions and admission requirements.

These standards—many backed by selective Biblical interpretation—don’t always reflect the unnaturally full, fearless way of life Jesus taught. Rather they reveal our natural limitations and anxieties based on what we see and do, not what we believe and expect. And to defend these fundamental flaws, their NOKD philosophy becomes “If you’re not like us, you can’t follow Jesus.”

Come As You Are

This doesn’t jibe with the Word, though. Christianity is not a club; it’s a process. It was designed for the NOKD crowd—sinners and outcasts seeking forgiveness and acceptance. It invites us to come as we are and it promises to help us reach our intended potential as beings created by God. In 2 Peter 3.9, we read:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Jesus died to open the door to people of every kind. He is patient with everyone. That’s why His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He lifted the unnecessary weight of exclusionary requirements and legal traditions. It’s not about getting in. It’s about going forward.


Christianity isn't a club; it's a process.

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