The pervasive concept of “us vs. them” is the basis of racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and in the words of Pastor Shirley Caesar, YOU NAME IT! While it can be fun to participate in simple sports rivalries, or debate who’s greek organization is the best, the hurtful nature of exclusivity does far more damage than people realize.
There is no doubt that systematic racial discrimination has harmed many people groups in this world, whether it be the Jim Crow South in the US, apartheid in South Africa, or the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. However, many of us draw very similar lines every Sunday morning. Martin Luther King once said that “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”
It is totally amazing to me that Christians perpetuate this idea just as much as any other group. Here are 5 things we should remember about “us & them.”
Your identity should produce humility:
It is human nature to classify, organize and group things; and this includes people. Unfortunately we allow our differences to create exclusivity when it should produce humility. If you identify yourself with Christ you must understand that exclusivity is not God’s will. If He doesn’t stand at the threshold of salvation and exclude people, what gives us the right to pit ourselves against others. Instead, we should fully embrace our unworthy acceptance into the family of God, and extend that same grace to every person.
God still hates pride:
If our identity in Christ produces humility, it is because God wants us to stay clear of pride. Pride feels good for the moment but it has a slow burn. It will allow you to exalt yourself to a place that exposes you to potential folly. If God hated it in Nebuchadnezzer, and guarded Paul from it, what makes us think He will tolerate pride in us? “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6b, I Peter 5:5b).”
No one should ever be disrespected:
Every person, regardless of their identity, deserves respect. Period, point-blank. I’ve said plenty about that in Who Are You.
There is virtually no end to the separations:
Once we start to feel exalted above people in the world, then we turn to our brothers and sisters, and the separating never stops. Denominations against denominations. Leadership against laity. Urban church against suburban church. Big church against small church. Most recently, in the African-American church we have seen the divide amongst pastors and musicians. When will it stop? Why can’t we all exist as God made us together?
We are STILL individuals:
I get why identity is important, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are individuals. The beauty of God’s grace is that it is applied universally. God calls us to unity, NOT uniformity. The tapestry created in the love of God is far more beautiful, and quite frankly more interesting, if we could just learn from our differences.
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