Seriously, there is very little that sucks more than knowing people for over a year and still being on the outside. It hurts a lot to realize that once again someone in a relatively small social circle has hosted a get together and left you off the list. There are dozens of “especially when’s” that could be applied to specific occurences, but overall it has happened so many times now that it actually makes me sick to think about it.
Since when has it become acceptable as the body of Christ to exclude some members?
Please know, I understand when people are hosting small dinner parties that it can be hard to invite everyone. And I get that within social circles even smaller groups often form. They’re generally called cliques. But, when thirty or more people are invited, or it’s a general send out a text message type invite, I feel like everyone should be included. And frankly it hurts to be the one left out. It also makes you hurt more for others when you know they aren’t invited either.
Because you know what it feels like to be the outsider looking in and longing for acceptance. And this is why it is not acceptable for Christians to exclude other Christians. We are supposed to be a body. One body. Not a bunch of parts that don’t want to spend time with the other parts.
And, honestly, as much as I do like the preaching at my church, if I wasn’t moving in two months than I would be looking for a new church body. Because I’m tired of fighting tears on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights as I realize yet again that I have not been invited to participate in the group activities. To realize that the best I get over a year into attending this church and being very active with this church group is a secondary invite because none of the hosts would ever think to include me. The “worse” part is that these hosts are the same people that tell me they want to spend time with me at other times. The duplicity of it all makes me want to curl up and cry at best and just give up entirely at worst.
I no longer really want to do anything with this group. Why would I? Why would I want to go to a Bible Study and ask for prayers from people who don’t include me? How can I trust them to pray for me when I can’t even rely on them to remember to or want to include me in regular everyday things they are doing?
And besides, if they’re going to reject me, shouldn’t I just reject them first? If I do, then it makes it my decision right? I’m not being left on the outside, I’m choosing to walk away, right? That should take the sting out of it, make it easier, yes?
But it doesn’t.
It still hurts, because, no matter how much I pretend otherwise, I want to be included. I want to know that these people, with whom I worship, actually do want me around. And yet, enough of them leave me out, or leave me to find out about things second and third handed. It hurts and it breaks my fellowship with my fellow Christians. Their exclusivity makes me want to have nothing to do with them or their church. Which is supposed to be my church. But it doesn’t feel like it. A year and a month later, I still feel like an outsider. Excepting a select few, I still feel unwelcome.
And this is the damage of exclusivity. It destroys fellowship. It breaks people down.