Our language is constantly evolving, reflecting changes in culture and context. Social inclusion and social exclusion are terms that have been used in the UK and Europe for some time, but now that they have hit the Australian Federal government's agenda are gaining rapid interest here.
When I consider the people that are part of the life of The Salvation Army Brunswick, I recognise that many of them (perhaps most) experience significant barriers to accessing the benefits of our society - they are socially excluded. Social exclusion has both wide and deep aspects: its width encompasses the large numbers of people who are living in poverty and its depth refers to those who experience multiple and complex barriers to full social and economic participation.
People who face deep exclusion can be troublesome to deal with. They may exhibit challenging and anti-social behaviours, which are complicated by mental illness and drug or alcohol abuse. They are often victims themselves of a terrible past that continues to leave visible scars on their present reality. They are often placed in the 'too hard basket' by services that are ill equipped to deal with them.
Deep exclusion is a challenge that Christians cannot ignore. If we are really concerned about seeing a more just society - about praying that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven - then we will need to understand the meaning of a salvation that is truly boundless.