The Christian Clique

Click here to read Deuteronomy 20 on BibleGateway.com

“Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too” – Deuteronomy 20:9

Visit any high school (or, if you dare, middle school) in the United States and you will see two things – consumption of copious amounts of caffeine, and groups separating themselves from other groups. Academics, Goths, Emo, Drama, Athletes, Student Councilors, Artists, Musicians, and so forth and so on – they all have their own place to hang out, their own assigned dress code, often their own dialects, and their individual group attitudes. Like oil and water, the artists and the jocks cannot and shall not mix – that leads to oily art and no one wants that. We call these divisions “cliques,” because it’s catchy and vaguely French, so you know it’s kind of vaguely negative. Most of us could probably look at our high school days and quickly identify one person from all the different cliques, and remember in detail how that person/group made us feel, either included or excluded. It can have an important effect on our lives in such a crucial time of self-identification, not to mention lifelong fashion choices.

CLIQUE CLICHE

Unfortunately, one of the primary complaints that outsiders make of the Church is that it is “cliquey,” that is, it tends to separate itself from the world, or to exclude other people. This is seen as unloving, and to a great extent, unChristian. If people were truly Christian, so goes the argument, then they would truly love all people and not be so judgmental all the time. Generally, the sense is that if the church is so exclusionary, that it must be a bad thing; that is, if the church is representing Jesus, than they should be more willing to accept everyone. So, as Christians, if we want to live our lives and fashion our ministries around the Bible, we have to ask ourselves if excluding other people is Biblical.

As it turns out – it is.

The Bible is full of examples of God and his people excluding others. In several books in the New Testament, including Titus and Corinthians, Paul instructs the churches to warn a “divisive” person or person who is blatantly sinning, and then to disassociate with them. In our chapter today, Moses tells the leaders of Israel that if someone is afraid to fight in a battle, they should be allowed to leave, lest their fear spread to other soldiers. Unity of belief and purpose is essential to the ideals God has established for his people, and high standards are part of that.

A HOLY AND SEPARATE PEOPLE

Notice the emphasis here – the problem is not the person themselves, but the way in which their attitude and/or actions will lead others astray. The assumption is that those “inside” will be loving each other and submitting to each other – that being “inside” is preferably to being “outside” the fellowship of believers because of the love/support/encouragement within. Along with that, comes the responsibility that part of loving each other is to lead each other closer to Christ. If you’re not doing that, then by definition you are not part of the body of Christ. The Bible says that influence has to be excised from the body, lest the infection spread. Sorry, all, but it appears that cliqueyness is part and parcel of serving God.

And yet the comparison to the “popular crowd” excluding people is not quite accurate, despite the repeated accusations. Here’s the difference – in a high school clique, there are people that desperately want to join, and are excluded because of family status, looks, or odor. In Christian clique, there is (or should be) only one requirement – are you striving to love God and others with all your heart and mind and strength? If so, you’re in. The only requirement is a choice you make; it’s actually the opposite of a clique where the choice belongs to others. Joining is entirely in your hands.

The question is – are you in…or out?

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