If you were to ask me right in this moment what one thing I would really like to see change in the American Church, it would have to be our devotion to the cause of Us vs. Them.
More and more, it sticks in my craw when I am with fellow Christians and the Us. vs. Them talk starts up. Who are Them ?
And so on
That list will look different for different people, but in short, Them are those people who are not Us.
You get into strange conversations with people who always think in terms of Us vs. Them. Try talking with an Evangelical who claims to love Israel yet complains about all the Jews running Hollywood, with its family-unfriendly movies filled with bad language and smutty imagery. Or the folks who go on and on about reaching the lost or ministering to the poor, yet who wish the Mexicans would go back where they came from. The disconnect is head-scratching.
I once had lunch with someone who made no pretenses to being a Christian. When I asked her why she liked living where she did, she said it was because the residents were so tolerant of others, not like those rednecks in the Midwest.
Too many American Christians have that same mentality. Its not only irrational, it’s ugly too. And its a large reason why so many people have tuned out the Church here. They know us by the culture war. They know us by whom we oppose. They have no idea of whom we are for. And if they’ve heard that old ’60s-era song “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” they wonder inside when it was ever true. (Maybe back in the ’60s. But then, didn’t we all love each other back in the ’60s?)
Look, there’s not a Christian alive who hasn’t heard the parable of the Good Samaritan. Three-year-old kids who still wet their pants from time to time know that story. How come so little of it ever sinks in? The Us passed by. The Them loved. Jesus smashed the stereotype of Us vs. Them to smithereens in that parable.
Many of the greatest novels ever written contain the archetypal story of the hero who does good because he remembers his roots. He never lets himself forget his humble origins, and that remembering helps him change the world for the better.
I think that one thing Jesus Christ would like to impress upon many American Christians is that each of Us was once Them. And that the people who are most effective for the Kingdom of God are those people who never let themselves forget that truth.
The time of forgetting we were once lost is past, folks. It’s time to start laying down Us to reach Them.