"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:35 King James Version:
Scripture tells us to love one another, even to the point of loving them the way we love ourselves. Have you ever thought about what that means in context of church cliques?
Maybe you have sat in a church before and felt "left out." You saw others sharing in friendships, others asked to participate in programs you would love to work in but are not invited to (or allowed, as the case may be) for some reason you don't understand. Maybe you've watched as people "favored" by the minister ignored you and you couldn't help but wonder about their walk and the leadership of the church.
We've all probably seen cliques in churches but can such things as cliques be loving things? Of course, there are going to be people among our brothers and sisters that we prefer. That's natural. But shouldn't we be very careful about that? What did Jesus say about giving the best seat to the rich person? How many times do such preferences go on in churches? I believe I've seen it a number of times.
We would do well to re-read the 2nd chapter of James.
Also, we should not ever forget that church is where hurting people go.
However, I am convinced, after what I've experienced in my own life, that a church can be so agenda driven regarding working a specific plan with the same group of people time after time, that people who would loved to have been included, are afraid to even speak up and are left feeling as if they are on the outside looking in.
These "left out" people are not allowed to work in their gifts. They are not allowed to speak and share their testimony. They're pushed along quickly when they finally get to shake the preacher's hand and are made to feel "small" by others who never acknowledge their presence. They see the same group of people run every aspect of the church while their help is overlooked. They can even be made to feel more insignificant by someone in the church who has become puffed up because of their "position" there.
That shy person you walked right by last Sunday without even making eye contact, may be making one of the most difficult decisions of their life and would welcome your friendly smile and acknowledgement.
That loner type who sits in the back of the church may be waiting for someone to include them in their walk with Jesus and needs a mentor.
That person with a talent to share is made to feel as if they don't measure up to those already established in the church hierarchy and is thinking they will never fit in.
That person with the big smile who aims for the door as soon as church is over, may feel like their life is falling apart and would welcome a prayer partner.
Many times, however, we can be so busy paying attention to those in our own little cliques, we will lose out on the opportunity to show Jesus to someone.
That's when church has become more like a club than the family of God.