Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Recently I felt that I was accused of being in a church “clique.” Whether the remark was meant for me or not, I took it personally and I have to admit that at the time it hurt me quite deeply.
I’ve always been somewhat of a loner, marching to a different drummer. In high school, I never ran with a pack, wasn’t invited to parties, and spent most of my time alone with my books. I was friendly to all but close friends with very few. I have felt the stinging sarcasm and snarky belittling of the popular mean girls. I was a nerd, preferring to spend my time reading encyclopedias and history books in the library. Yes, I was reading actual reference books! I’m old! Before Google old!
As someone who has been perpetually left out of many things in my life, I understand the pain of omission and have made it a conscious goal to be a very inclusive, inviting and encouraging person. I’m the one always shaking hands and patting backs, making small talk and trying to make others feel included and welcome. As I’ve aged, it has become a natural part of my personality to be friendly and try to make everyone feel wanted, appreciated and necessary. I’m always inviting others to come to church and to take an active role whenever there is an opportunity. I guess that is why perceiving that I was being accused of being in a clique bothered me so much.
And so, when I’m bothered by anything I take it to the Lord in prayer. As I talked to Lord about it, the thought came into my spirit of another clique of twelve men whose leader was none other but the Lord Himself. I can only imagine the gossip and snarky comments coming from the Pharisees inside the Temple about the Jesus clique.
The wonderful thing about the Jesus clique, the twelve men He personally selected as He began His ministry, they followed the lead of the Master and invited everyone to join them. Soon their number grew to 120 as we are told in Acts 1:15, “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples…the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty.” And as these began to go out and share the gospel message and invite others to join, their numbers continued to increase exponentially! “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41. Today, untold millions for over two thousand years have joined the Jesus clique.
If you notice in my opening sentence, I used the words “at the time it hurt me quite deeply” to be accused of being in a clique, now I wear the label proudly. When the Lord opened my eyes to the power of the clique He started when He called out to a couple of smelly fishermen named Simon Peter and Andrew, “Follow me!” I realized what an honor it is to be in a clique – a clique that invites everyone to join. The clique He began to create on that day changed the world and is continuing to change it today. I am honored to be a part of this group, whose membership is available only by the grace, the unearned, unmerited favor of the Lord Himself.
If you have never been invited to join the Jesus “clique” that started on that day so long ago on the shores of Galilee, I invite you now. More importantly, Jesus invites you. All you have to do is have faith in Him, repent and turn from your sin and determine your life to follow Him. If you have made a decision today to follow Jesus Christ, I encourage you to read The Plan of Salvation to learn more. Find a good church, find Christian friends who will help you along your new path, who will welcome you with open arms into the Jesus clique!
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
May God bless and keep you and if I don’t meet you again here, I hope to meet you over there!