Bounded and Centered

A few years ago while taking a class on evangelism I was introduced to the notion of “Bounded” and “Centered” groups. These were two very different ways of understanding salvation. The “Bounded” people were interested in knowing standards, rules and procedures for determining who is saved and who isn’t. Visually this way of thinking could be represented by a circle. Those on the inside are part of the kingdom of God and those on the outside are the non-Christians. There is a sense in which this desire to know the rules is what got humanity kicked out of the garden. You can read about this in Genesis 3. The “Centered” folks are most concerned about the direction someone is facing or moving. For these people you are either moving toward or away from the center. This is the drama that plays out in Acts 10 where Peter comes to the realization that all people who seek Jesus, including the Gentiles, are included in the Kingdom of God.

I must admit that I have a strong affinity with the “Centered” approach. There are “risks” with the centered approach. The clearly defied rules for membership (salvation) blur. It may mean opening ourselves up to the possibility that God works in ways we don’t approve of. Taking this line of thought to an even more radical place, it may mean that God fully accepts and includes people we don’t approve of.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul challenges the reader to put an end to childish ways. We need to move past the mentality of Adam that caused him to listen to the serpent and attempt in vain to be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil. Quite frankly that didn’t work out so well for him and it hasn’t worked out well for the church.

Putting away childish things means finding the courage to move past old ways of operating. It means being open to the possibility that who the church excludes misses the heart of God. Declaring who is in and who is out is both immature (childish) and out of sync with the heart of God.