Community or clique?

Birds of a feather flock together. That's why you never see a robin flying wingman in a "V" formation of geese or a crow hanging out with hummingbirds (actually, crows are mean enough that they don't even like the company of other crows). But we who are filled with the Holy Spirit are empowered to buck this law of nature and follow the example of Jesus. He shared His life with an unusual group of guys who were not like Him or even each other. What do the Son of God, a tax collector, an anti-government zealot, and a handful of fishermen have in common? This kind of community was not natural, and, sadly, the first generation of Christians began separating over class and racial differences. Jews looked down on Gentiles, masters thought less of slaves, and the wealthy abused the poor. James ordered the church to stop giving preferential treatment to the rich (James 2:1-9) and Paul admonished the Corinthians to eat together rather than divide by class (1 Corinthians 11:33-34). He reminded the Galatians that "there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Henri Nouwen defined community as "the place where the person you least want to live with always lives." Philip Yancey explains: "Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, thus forming a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community." Do you start conversations at church with those who are different from you? Do you invite people to dinner that you don't particularly like? This kind of community is not natural. But it changed the world once, and it can do so again. , Mike Wittmer

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