Monday, January 25, 2010
This is a word that strikes terror in the hearts of many, and yes, often with reason. When someone is a part of a clique, it makes us feel left out, unwanted, and insecure. No one wants to feel that way!
On the other hand, what about the person who always wants to include everyone? Can that ever be a bad thing? I am one of those people, and I know it can backfire on that person and others in his or her sphere of influence.
Let's take a look at Jesus and his friends. Did Jesus have a best friend besides His Father? I believe He did. His "bestie" was John, the "diciple whom Jesus loved." Jesus and John had a very strong bond that was different than his bonds with the other disciples. Then he had the three friends that were closer than the other disciples: Peter, James and John. These three went with Jesus to the Garden during his darkest hour before the trial and crucifixion. Even though they let Him down on that occasion and others, this was a very tight group.
Outside that group, we have the rest of the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus' mother, Mary. Jesus had unique relationships with each of these men and woman that was different than other relationships He experienced. So, was Jesus cliqueish? Not at all. This difference in relationships is absolutely normal!
The difference between Jesus and us is how He handled these relationships. When Jesus was with a group of his disciples, He was with the whole group, not one or two individuals. His behavior or words included everyone present. When He spent time with His "besties", He drew them aside. Even though I imagine there was definately some jealousy somewhere that Jesus had that special relationship,the problem was in the hearts of the observers, not in Jesus' actions.
When we show obvious favoritism to one or two people when we're in a group of people, this is sin. We need to leave certain BFF behaviors for when we're alone with our special friends. This does not mean we must include everyone in everything we do, it just means that we are sensitive to the time and place, allowing ourselves to relate to others when the situation warrants it. The BFF will be there after youth group or after school or after wherever to hang with on a more intimate level, but when we cling to that person in every circumstance, we hurt others by our actions.
On the other hand, if you've done the best you can to include others in group activites and they still exhibit jealousy, the problem is in their own heart. This brings us to that aspect of trying to include everyone all the time. When we try to do that, we overwhelm ourselves. It is not possible to be close friends with everyone. It is not possible to always include everyone in everything.
That's one reason Jesus drew his closest friends aside, even as He also went to be alone with His Father on a frequent basis. But, when Jesus was in a crowd, He did not single one out for favoritism. He did, however, occasionally single someone out who had a need. He met that need, giving that person individual attention, and then moved back to allow others in.
Not only can we not expect to include everyone in everything, we also cannot expect ourselves to be included in everything. Life just doesn't work that way. Often we need to look into our own hearts for this root of jealousy and bitterness. Then we need to give the benefit of the doubt and forgive. Then, when the opportunity presents itself to spend special time with this person, it is not clouded by resentment.
Believe me, even Jesus didn't please everyone, so how can we expect to make everyone happy all the time? We cannot do it! Instead, we need to develop a sensitivity to others around us and seek to meet the needs we can, just as Jesus did, while reserving some of our BFF behaviors for another time. If we cling to our BFFs all the time, we will lose out on the opportunity to get to know some pretty amazing people.
One person you can have all to yourself any time you want (and yet not) is Jesus. He longs to spend intimate BFF time with us, as we seek to spend time with others, leaving Jesus out. Imagine the hurt He may feel when we ignore Him. Life and relationships are complicated, but time spent with our ultimate BFF sorts out those tangles and keeps us in the right frame of mind and spirit to deal with them.
Remember: Life isn't about being with our BFFs, it's about bringing others to our ultimate BFF and introducing them so they too can become His BFF. When we put our focus on meeting the needs God points out to us and equips us for, our own needs will be met to overflowing.