***Before I begin this blog post, I want to stress that I am not attempting to criticize or undermine the principles of our faith. Rather, my intention is to urge our fellow congregants to embrace the true essence of Christianity, which is rooted in compassion, empathy, and kindness towards one another.
In this world, we often find ourselves seeking a sense of belonging, of community. And what better place to find that than within the walls of a church? However, it seems that too often we are met with closed doors and cold shoulders, leaving us feeling like outsiders in a place that should be welcoming us with open arms.
As a Christian, I am saddened by the lack of love and compassion that some of our fellow believers display towards others. The church is supposed to be a place of refuge and comfort for everyone, regardless of their background or social status. Yet, we often see the opposite happening, where people are excluded and ostracized because they do not fit into a certain mould.
It is important to remember that the church is not a social club, where we can pick and choose who we want to associate with based on our own preferences. The church is a family, a community, and we are called to love and accept one another as Christ has loved and accepted us.
I have often found myself standing alone in the pews of church, while groups of people huddle together in gossip and idle chatter. The pain and isolation that comes from being excluded by those who share our faith is a wound that cuts deep. It is a wound that can discourage those who are new to the faith, causing them to turn away from Christ altogether. Let us remember that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and so let us strive to welcome all who come to our doors with open arms and open hearts.
This behaviour is not new, and it is not unique to the modern church. Even in the time of Jesus, there were cliques and factions amongst the people of Israel. However, Jesus himself did not condone this behaviour. He welcomed everyone, regardless of who they were or what they had done. He spent time with tax collectors and sinners, the outcasts of society, and showed them love and acceptance.
So why do we, as Christians, struggle so much with this issue? I believe it stems from our own insecurities and fears. We are afraid of being rejected ourselves, so we create a group of people who we feel safe and comfortable around. We forget that we are called to love even our enemies, let alone our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is time for us to break down these barriers and reach out to those who are on the fringes of our churches. We need to be intentional about making people feel welcome and valued, no matter who they are or where they come from. This means stepping out of our comfort zones, initiating conversations and inviting someone to sit with us.
The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:10 to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” We need to live out these words in our daily lives and in our churches. Let us be known for our love and acceptance, rather than our cliques and exclusivity.
When we make snap judgments about others, we are not only hurting them, but we are also hurting ourselves. We are missing out on the incredible diversity and richness that comes from being part of a truly unified body of believers.
In the book of James, we are reminded that “if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9 ESV). This makes it clear that we must strive to be inclusive, to reach out to those who may be new or different from us, and to create a welcoming environment where all can feel at home.
In conclusion, as Christians, we must recognize the harm that cliques can cause in our churches and actively work towards breaking down these barriers. It is important that we extend a hand of friendship to those who may feel isolated or excluded, and that we understand the profound impact that our actions can have on those around us. We must remember to love our neighbours as ourselves and welcome strangers, as Jesus taught us to do. By doing so, we can create a more welcoming and loving environment in our churches, one that reflects the true love and compassion of Christ.