Don't panic--I don't intend to preach, or proselytize, in this space. I just feel like I'm being called to explore and share things that God's doing in my life, and put what I'm learning into words for anyone who might be interested.
I had an interesting and challenging conversation a few months ago with someone who said he thought Christianity was exclusive, in the sense that it excludes people. I think, if I understood correctly, he was saying Christianity, and Christians, are intolerant, and we often keep other people out of our "club," rather than accept them openly and with love. It made me think. Are we exclusive? As I looked into scripture, I decided: yes and no.
Huh? O.K., I see it like this: We've all sinned and broken our relationship with God. God has made a way to restore that relationship. He only made one way, though: faith in Jesus Christ, who died to pay the price for our sins. Jesus himself said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6, NIV) So, that's exclusive in one sense; you can't just believe anything you want, no matter how sincere you are. It says you have to accept the one way God himself provided.
On the other hand, it's completely non-exclusive in another sense. God made the one way, faith in his Son Jesus, available to everyone. Yes, everyone. Right now. No matter what we've done, no matter what we're still doing, God loves us. The king has set a feast, and has invited everyone. "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, NIV)
So, I've become convicted that God calls me to speak the truth, about the one way that he has graciously provided us, while loving people unconditionally. Not just tolerate them--love them, as God loves them. A tall order, and I'll confess that I'm guilty of not doing it well. I trust, though, that God will help me do it better as I follow him.