The dreaded 'H20' game: one person tries to catch the others, and whoever gets caught links arms with her, forming a long line of catchers until only one person remains. I’ve always tried to get caught as quickly as possible. For one, I didn’t want to be “left out” of the big group of catchers, and also, we all knew that it was harder to survive if you were on your own.
Isn’t that how cliques work? We naturally gravitate toward groups because we know that is where we can be safe and secure. Within these groups, the ‘H2O’ strong bonds are a source of security where we can be certain that we belong. But if you’re one of those who aren’t in any group, it can feel dangerous, lonely, and vulnerable. Looking at these groups from the outside, those ‘H2O strong bonds seem almost impenetrable.
While cliques are a natural part of any bigger community, I’ve often asked myself, does it have to be this way?
The Importance Of Being Inclusive
Community is definitely necessary for all of us, but it’s not without its problems. It’s possible that the more we invest in these cliques, the more exclusive we can become. Whether we are conscious of it or not, an invisible boundary is drawn between the ‘in group’ and those on the outside; letting anyone in can feel uncomfortable. How then should we cultivate close friendships in the church setting while still being inclusive to all who come our way?
Learning to be inclusive is especially important in church because we are called to love without walls. Perhaps one of the more prominent reasons why individuals leave the church is because of the lack of community and connection, and this is a sad scenario that isn’t unfamiliar to us. A friend once mentioned a time that he brought a group of friends to church. To his surprise, no one talked to any of his friends or welcomed them into the church — everyone stayed within their own cliques and made no effort to include his friends.
There’s nothing wrong with community, but when it prevents us from loving others the way Jesus calls us to, then we must reconsider the way that we behave in our cliques!
There is a difference between the way Jesus spent time with people and the way we fellowship in our Christian communities today. It’s easy to limit our interactions to those we know well and are comfortable with instead of opening up to those we are not as close to.
In contrast, Jesus was constantly interacting with people outside of his twelve disciples, including them in conversations, and more often than not, intentionally seeking them out. In modern terms, we could say that the twelve disciples were Jesus’s ‘clique’ — they often prayed together, did ministry together,and ate together. Yet the sinners, the sick,the poor, and many more were all able to approach the twelve and also spend time with Jesus — no one was left out, and all were intentionally included.
Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from the way Jesus struck a balance between having a close-knit community and at the same time including anyone who wanted to be with Him.
This article first appeared in Issue 17. To read more, purchase a copy here.