Suck it up and get busy loving others!

Thoughts on Cliques, Bitterness, & True Christian Fellowship

As a pastor I have seen cliques wreak their damages for years now. I have seen Christians form cliques and unknowingly hurt others. I have seen some Christians knowingly form cliques by shrugging off others because they find them different or annoying. I have seen Christians who at one time were hurt by cliques, form cliques themselves and then do the same hurtful excluding that hurt them so much. From my end of things, as a pastor watching this in youth group, young adults, and regular church, it is ,and has been, frustrating to say the least. The body of Christ is to be the most peace-instilling and love-sharing community on earth! It is a shame how badly we fail at doing this.

Along these same lines and as I just recently preached (and blogged)… One of the greatest enemies to the body of Christ is discord. And dissensions amongst Christians go right against the heart of Christ as revealed in his prayer in John 17:10… “Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. “ Dissension is listed as one of the sins God detests in Proverbs 6:19. Above any other activity, God wants genuine unity and love amongst his people:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. ~ Matthew 5:21-24

But, true Christian fellowship works both ways. You see, true fellowship comes not only from people being mindful about others who may be feeling excluded; true fellowship also comes from those who, even when they feel a little excluded, choose to love and show grace to those who may be overlooking or excluding them. I’ll put it to you like this: I have never observed anyone begin to feel excluded when they are busy pursuing healthy relationships with others – NEVER! Let me repeat that – NEVER! In fact, in my 15 years of ministry experience, 99% of the people who complain about a church or church group being unfriendly, cliquish, non-relational, etc… are not reaching out themselves! Maybe it’s because of insecurities, pride, bitterness, or whatever else; but it’s causing that person to withdraw. And people who withdraw from others will never find true fellowship.

As sinners we blame-shift a lot. We always want to excuse our problems because other people have wronged us. Well, let’s face it, other people have wronged us and hurt us. That’s life in a Genesis 3 world! Show me a Bible verse that excuses us from loving people who have hurt us or excluded us. I’ll save you the trouble…you won’t find one! It’s time for us own up to our own failures, then we will be able to help our brother get the speck out of his eye.

True Christian fellowship only comes from people who are willing to love others. True fellowship will never come when people are only hanging with people who are like them; that’s called racism, prejudice, and hatred. And true fellowship will never come when we carry bitterness towards those not including us. To be a peacemaker and true community/fellowship builder, we have suck it up and love others! Loving is not easy; it requires humility and vulnerability. But remember this, it always worth it and extremely fulfilling because God created us to love others!