The universal and personal aspects of our inclusion in Christ

As we consider the truth of the inclusion (adoption) of all humanity through Jesus into the triune life of God, we struggle to find adequate and accurate words to speak of this mind-blowing grace. It's outside our normal frame of reference and thus defies "human logic."

Because this is so, we struggle to hold together the "already" but "not yet" nature of this inclusion. All people everywhere and in all times are already included through Jesus' vicarious (representative/substitutionary) humanity. However, not all yet *understand* and thus not all yet *embrace* what is already theirs in Christ.

As Pastor Timothy reminds us, all humans now share and thus meaningfully (though not necessarily consciously) already experience Jesus' life and love. And what a blessing it is for us to point out to non-believers and believers alike the good news of their inclusion. We can help non-believers discover for the first time what they may have always sensed, namely that Jesus has always been present with them - sharing his life and love with them in myriad ways. And we can graciously invite them to change their thinking (repent) concerning their essential identify and entrust their lives (this is faith)in the one who has loved them and been with them all along.

Such is the gospel invitation to repentance and faith and it includes the invitation to them to "take up their cross and follow Jesus." What a privilege to offer this invitation! It is truly good news of the actual truth at the heart of all creation. Jesus, and our life in him!

And it gets even better. Those who awaken through the illumination of the Spirit to this wonderful truth begin to experience it and share in it more fully. They are engrafted by the Spirit into a community of Christ-followers that Scripture calls the "church." This "body of Christ" by the special anointing and call of the Spirit is formed for active participation in Jesus' mission, which we refer to as Jesus' "Great Commission" to "make disciples." In our participation in this mission we co-minister with the Spirit, utilizing his grace gifts to assist people in their journey with Jesus from lack of awareness of their inclusion, to full and active participation in it as his disciples.

Our emphasis in all this is not on who is "in" and who is "out" but on the inclusion of all in the triune circle of God's love and life; helping people everywhere to understand, to turn in joy to embrace, and to more fully experience and express what they have been given.

As we speak of this, we necessarily refer to the *universal* inclusion of all humanity, as well as the *personal* experience and growth of individuals in that inclusion. This is not an either-or proposition, but one that is both-and. I believe we must take care not to emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. However, I believe that it is essential to ground discussion of the personal in the truth of the universal. The personal without the foundation of the universal can easily become a system of mere *religious works* stripped of the life of the triune God shared by the grace of adoption with all humanity.