The trouble with Christians is that many are cliquish! We get ourselves into our holy huddles and enjoy each other's company, forgetting others in need inside the church and a dying world outside the church that needs to be saved. It’s only the great souls, who think outside the box, who make an impact on Christendom.
Hudson Taylor, one of these great souls, was called to China. He walked a lonely road in preparation for his call. Whilst others indulged, he lived frugally on fish and rice to prepare himself for hardships. He spent his Sunday evenings going around the homes in his town, handing out tracts and preaching the gospel to them. He saw beyond the circle of his friends to the needs outside the church.
Christ saw the dangers of this close-knit community amongst His disciples. On one occasion, they rejected another who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus because he wasn’t part of their group (Mark 9:38). Jesus rebuked them for such an attitude. He knew they were called to preach the gospel, not simply to be a small group of believers huddled together around the Master. He sent them out in twos to preach. He encouraged them to preach the gospel throughout the world. There was nothing cliquish about that!
For several months, we had a gentleman who came around our church who looked a bit different from many of the folks who came because his face, head, hands and arms were covered in tattoos. At one point, I was chatting to one of our folks and mentioned him by name. Realising they didn’t know who I was talking about, I said, ‘You know, the man with all the tattoos?” My friend hadn’t noticed him because, at the end of meetings, she hadn’t turned around to check who was in church and was happily mixing with her small circle of friends.
We need to see the bigger picture. This week some of us are attending a summer conference at Aberfoyle. There will be a good number attending from various parts of the country. We need to show kindness to one another. Make sure you turn around to see who is behind you at the end of meetings. Don’t simply turn to your friend sitting beside you and chat with them, thinking you're doing a good turn to someone you know. Our Lord says if we do that,
“How are you different from anyone else?” (verse 47b)
There has to be a sacrificial way of living. It is far more comfortable to remain among our friends and ignore the stranger. But if we do, then we are no different from the unbeliever. Don’t use the excuse that you find it difficult to speak to visitors or those who seem to hang on the peripheries. Who doesn’t feel awkward? Pray for the faith to have the right words and attitude so you might make others feel welcomed and helped.
“But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” John 4:35 NLT