As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? Yes, you are our glory and joy!
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There is a group teaching exercise where everyone but one is instructed to stand in a tight circle. The person on outside of the circle is instructed to join the circle. The circle people automatically seem to hear that as a competitive struggle, a game in which the circle people protect the circle and prevent the invasion of the Other. Very rarely is the first instinct of the circle group simply to make an opening to make the circle bigger. I see this happening over and over again in our tribes today. For the Apostle Paul, through our baptism into Christ, we are made brothers and sisters. He ached when he was not able to be with each of them. If he had a Facebook page, Paul would be posting pictures of them as his joy and crown. These people weren't his blood family or even from his own country. He barely spent more than a few weeks with them in his whole life. So I ask you today, my brothers and sisters, are we holding the hands of our tribal members in such a tight circle that we are losing the circulation to our hearts? Have we lost our ability to invite an orphan to the table for a meal? Have we become so afraid of anyone of a different opinion that we guard against their infection? I am not at all a big fan of giving any bandwidth to Satan, however, the champion of evil has got to be enjoying this. I think tribalism is born of the instinct to survive. To be a follower of Jesus is to be willing to come and die. Tribalism is not the way of Christ. We can do better.
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Holy God, help me to be aware of when I am holding on so tight that I am keeping your children out. Amen.