In a recent article titled, “The Kindergarten Tribes” (http://www.neatorama.com/2014/04/18/The-Kindergarten-Tribes), a parent shares a son’s kid’s-eye view of life on the playground, and how the son and his classmates sort themselves out into different “tribes” during recess. There are the “diggers”, the “minecrafters”, the “ballers”, the “superheroes”, the “girls” (a tribe which does not apparently include all the girls), and of course, the “tribeless”.
It’s a cute article. It reminded me of my own experiences in grade school (and up through high school). It also reminded me that belonging to different tribes, or even fighting the notion that we have to belong to just one group, is something that doesn’t necessarily go away over the years.
As adults, we continue to gather together in groups that share interests and goals, hobbies and sports teams and even faith. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can get ugly when tribes shape their identity over and against each other, and this happens between sports fans, political parties, religions, and sadly even among Christian denominations.
Yet as Christians, no matter whether we’re Packers fans or Bears fans, Democrat or Republican, Lutheran or Methodist, Baptist or Catholic, our deepest identity is that we belong to the tribe of Jesus. He died for us – not just you and I individually, but for us – to create a new identity that breaks down all the other barriers that keep us apart from one another.
One of the secrets of growing up is realizing that we can belong to multiple tribes at the same time. We can be friends with people across tribes. We can partner together for a bigger purpose.
Caroline’s article on the Baptist value of “Church Freedom” highlights the way we come together as a local church and organize our structure and life together around a shared understanding of faith and life. This can lead to big differences between Baptist churches, and sometimes sadly proves true the joke that we multiply by division. However, at its best this provides the freedom to worship and grow in our relationship with God with integrity in community, a place where we can disagree with one another and from church to church, yet still work together and be joined by our greater identity as men and women redeemed by our Savior.
In the life of our church, we naturally have groups and tribes: family members, friends, different study groups, people with common life experiences and interests. That’s a good thing. But may we also make an extra effort to get to know people outside of our tribes, to sit with someone new at a potluck, even to sit somewhere new on a Sunday morning and find we get to know folks in a new way.
How can we bridge the tribes in our own church? How will we live out the Gospel in the rest of the tribes we belong to? Where is God calling us to connect outside of our tribes to share our faith?
Blessings on the Journey,