Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a clique and an affinity group? I have. Have you ever felt excluded from a group? I have. Have you ever wondered if there were groups in the Bible? I have. Have you ever wondered how to navigate the group issue? I have. Perhaps my ponderings will encourage you (as it did me) to have a healthier view of groups.
I found the definition of clique and affinity to be helpful.
Affinity is “sympathy marked by community of interest” and clique is a “narrow exclusive circle or group of persons” as defined by Merriam-Webster. So, a clique is a group where you exclude others. But you can have groups that by their very nature exclude people. For example, family, work, hobby, recreation, service, families with similar aged children are all groups that by their very nature exclude people. Some are also affinity groups. They are groups that have a common interest. If someone does not have the same interest, then they have self-excluded.
We all have groups we are a part of. There is nothing wrong with being a part of a group. There are plenty examples of groups in the Bible: tribes, families, singers, musicians, disciples, and so forth. I think the problem today comes when we talk about our group in front of someone who is not a part of that group (some people are certainly more public than others about their activities). I think God is not more pleased with a group that publicizes their activities over those that are kept private. Perhaps another part of the problem is we are not grateful to God for the groups that we are a part of.
Perhaps you will find the following etiquette questions helpful as you navigate the treacherous waters of groups. How am I excluding people (intentionally or subconsciously)? What cliques am I a part of? How sensitive am I to those outside of my group when I speak about my group? Do I make comments to my group members about our get togethers/activities in front of someone that is not a part of my group? When have I talked about meeting up with others in front of someone else? What was my motive in this act? Do I invite someone to something in front of someone else? How have I used social media to brag about my exclusive group before others?
Or maybe you will find this perspective beneficial. Do I have a subconscious expectation to be included or do I have a humble attitude and accept where God has placed me? Are my eyes focused on what groups others are in or are my eyes on gratefulness to God? When I reflected on these soul-searching questions, I found God had given me a new peace about groups. God sovereignly puts me in certain groups for His purposes. Keep in mind groups (yours and others) do change and sometimes dissolve. I concluded from my ponderings with God about groups that I need to go humbly about His business in my groups, be grateful, and be thoughtful about my comments in front of others. How about you?