15 Ailments of the Church #14: Cliques

Read Proverbs 6:16-19

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

clicks-sand-cliquesDo you remember high school? I remember when I went to freshman orientation, we were all told that we could expect that high school would be the best four years of our lives. Now, that is some promise that comes with a whole host of different expectations depending on who the person with those expectations is. For me, I expected that the best four years of my life would be years in which I was accepted for who I was, that I was treated with respect and love, and that the segregation that existed between the popular groups and the outcasts would cease to exist. Unfortunately, high school did not deliver; rather, it became the opposite of the best four years of my life.

15 Ailments of the Church #14: Cliques. In the fourteenth of Pope Francis I’s 15 Ailments of the Church, he writes that one of the ailments is that Christians tend to “form ‘closed circles’ that seek to be stronger than the whole.” These “closed groups” are what are more commonly known as cliques and they are the bane of the church. While Francis is addressing the forming of such groups within the church, I want to bring it to the macrocosom for a moment. The reality is that the church, as a whole, has become a clique. Those who are within the “closed group” of the church are “saved”, “worthy”, “righteous”, “holy”, “pious”, etc. Every one outside of the church are considered “lost”, “unsaved”, “unholy”, “unrighteous”, “evil”, “sinful”, “misguided”, “damned”, etc. This sort of “us” versus “them” outlook at the world is exactly the opposite outlook that Jesus had in his life and in his ministry.

Cliques are a perversion of the community God has created us to form and play a part in. The Kingdom of God is an all-inclusive community that welcomes all people regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, what they do or don’t believe, etc. The only ones excluded from this holy community are the ones who choose to exclude themselves. Cliques, on the other hand, are not communities at all. They are groupings of people seeking to have power and status over others. They are groups that seek to undermine the whole and who seek to destroy those who they consider to be beneath them.

Unfortunately, cliques are prevalent within Christian places of worship, within Christian institutions, and within all aspects of Christianity. There are cliques within the hierarchy of the church, cliques that clergy take part in, and cliques that laity take part in. The church is filled with cliques, with gossip, with slander, and with other forms of evil. All of this, whether we want to admit it exists or not, is to the detriment of the church as a whole.

Christ is calling us to break up our cliques. Christ is commanding us to return to God’s understanding of community. Relationships with others are a beautiful thing when those relationships strengthen and build up the whole; however, when they work to tear down or be better than the whole, they are terribly destructive and antichrisitian. We are called to be the former and to completely avoid being the latter. Christ is challenging us to live as he lived, to love as he loved, and to embrace the world with that love, even if we don’t embrace the ways of the world. Remember Christ’s call for us to be perfect, even as our father in heaven is perfect. It’s a tall order, indeed, and cliques don’t play into it.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Try to have as diverse group of friends as possible and don’t get into the clique scenario.” – Andrew Shue

PRAYER

Lord, break me away from the temptation to be a part of cliques so that I may work toward being inclusive of all. Amen.

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