We all long for acceptance. We need to know that we are loved. Beyond that, we need to be around others who validate us, give us some sense that the way we are doing life and the choices we’ve made have not made us less than human. The Bible talks about community over and over, and when it’s not talking about community, it’s giving us a story of people in community.
Unfortunately, even community can turn sour and hurt people. I’m not talking about a “falling out” or one group against another. I’m talking about the time in the natural progression of community when the group hardens and is no longer open to outsiders. Because our deepest desire is to be accepted and loved, we have a natural tendency to find a group that affirms us, then allow a hard shell to form around our comfort group so no others can get in.
Most churches don’t realize we’re doing this and would never do it on purpose, but it happens.