Michael DeFazio was a former high school student at a church I served in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thankfully I was the middle school minister, because even back then Michael was much smarter than me. Currently Michael is on staff at Real Life Church in Valencia, CA, serving as their Life Groups Area Pastor. Needless to say I’m proud of this young man. God has took hold of his life, and Michael grabbed hold of God’s mission, and both have been faithful.
Last week Michael posted some thoughts from a book he’s reading on his blog that I thought I’d share.
Michael is reading a book entitled Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf. Michael wrote that the book is slightly over his head for his first reading of it, so I know it’s probably not a book for me. It probably doesn’t even have pictures.
In the book Miroslav Volf describes several reasons why exclude others. Michael summaries that we refuse to even accept some human beings as human beings, because we see them precisely as others. Here are a few ways by which we exclude:
Exclusion as elimination – because you are different from us/me I will not allow you to survive; as in actual cases of ethnic cleansing, or, on a smaller scale, murder.
Exclusion as assimilation – you can survive and even thrive so long as you become like us/me; you can keep your life if you give up your identity.
Exclusion as domination – you can remain, but only as long as you stay in your place, which is beneath us/me; we see this in classism.
Exclusion as abandonment – you can remain but I will act like you are not there; this is the case in much of the two-thirds world, which we rarely really see.
Outside of the first exclusion we often see these in the high school expereince. If adults were more honest we would possibly admit to feeling these exlusions in our own environments, or that we participate in excluded others in these manners.
I suppose the thoughts that need to be wrestled with in light of this would be why do I exclude and how can better process my interaction with others on an individual level so that I more accurately demonstrate the love of God.