If you’ve spent any time in youth ministry, then you’ve exhaustively encouraged students not to form cliques. It usually comes in the form of: “Let’s be sure to include everyone!” or “Make sure you don’t leave anybody out!” or “This weekend everyone is your BFF!”
But apart from “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), have we ever explained to students WHY we use these cheesy one-liners to encourage inclusivity?
Try this one on for size:
2 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. -Matthew 2:2-4 & 8-9
Cliques are Sinful
I would bet that most students have no clue that their “cold shoulder” is an act of sin. Furthermore, most students have no concept of sins of omission.
Sins of Commission – knowingly doing something wrong.
Sins of Omission – Not doing what you know you should do.
If James were talking to a group of students today, he might say:
“My brothers, show no favor as you follow Jesus, the Lord of Glory. For if a cool kid wearing the latest clothes with the nicest car is walking down the hall, and the stinky annoying kid who nobody likes is also walking down the hall, and you pay attention to the cool kid, have you not shown favor to cool kids?…If you show favor to people you like over people who you deem “unimportant,” you are committing sin.”
Our emphasis on inclusion is not merely an attempt to foster community, it’s a battle against sin.
How do you help foster community and fight against exclusivity? Comment below!