From "the Family of God" to One Human Family
I have no issues with people finding community and connection in churches. Just like any organization or institution, churches can vary from the healthy to unhealthy, and each congregation has different elements of each. These faith communities can be families, nurturing personal growth, giving people opportunities to express themselves and serve others. All this is good. My issue comes with churchgoers seeing their congregation or religion as "the Family of God" and those outside it as outside of God's family.
Many different religions claim an exclusive hold on truth and exclusive access to God/heaven/afterlife. Many Christians, who worship a Jesus that said a pagan centurion had greater faith than all those in Israel and that all the law and prophets hang on love, insist they are "in" while those outside the Christian religion are "out" of God's will and plan. At some level, I get it. We all do it. We all see our own opinions as best and naturally tend to exclude others who don't seem to align with our values. Rather than opening ourselves to learn from others, appreciating both common values and diverse perspectives, we instead put lines around love and choose to keep only "in the family." For this reason, it is imperative we shift our view of the family from being only one particular tribe to seeing ourselves as distinct groups within one human family.
We can hold to our truth while listening to and being affected by the truth of others. We can have soft walls of our tradition as we more radically and actively communicate with our "extended family." When I see myself as part of one human family, I can more clearly see and name the evils committed in the name of tribalism, from drone strikes to excommunication. When we see ourselves as part of one human family, we can see how all our beliefs and traditions have some role to play in shaping this world rather than trying to win over others to our ideology. When we see ourselves as part of one human family, we can extend compassion and care to anyone rather than only those who are deemed "worthy" by the establishment. The time has come not to abolish all tribes, but to transcend tribalism. It is crucial that we make the journey from seeing only our tradition as "the family of God" and move to a connected consciousness of One Human Family.