… everyone. See this by Karen Yates?
Too often we leave the job of hospitality, of friendliness and inclusiveness, to someone else (many times the already overextended pastor). Just like high school, we walk into church and sit with our same friends in our same section. On the patio we approach the people we know, the people we are closest with, because we want to hear about their week, about what’s been happening with their family, about their job or what-have-you. Mid-week we meet up with a small group at a park or coffee shop or lunch date, “let’s just keep it us so we can really talk.” We assign people to groups, we divide by difference and common interests. At MOPS or bible study, we would rather pull up another chair at our friend’s table than sit down with all the singletons at the newbie table. Many times we have “community groups” and we don’t want new people to join because a new person will “mess up the dynamics.”
The excuse many of us Christians make (when we are aware of our actions) is that “even Jesus himself had a close, inner circle.” We argue that we can’t be close friends with everyone. We only have so much time to go around, and we hardly spend time with our best friends, let alone have the time to meet so many new friends, new people.
Those things are true.
But we are to befriend the outcast too. And if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we simply don’t want to. It takes energy and effort to befriend new people. It takes risk. And we are about our wants. We want to sit with our clique, the friends that make us feel loved. We want to go out to lunch with people we like, people we prefer. We want to spend our time our way.