Re-Thinking Us vs. Them

photo credit: Andygt via photopin cc

photo credit: Andygt via photopin cc

Rich vs. Poor.  Right vs. Left.  Citizens vs. Illegal Aliens.  Black vs. White.  Government vs. Taxpayers.  These are just some of the Us vs. Them battles that we perceive around us.  Fear and ideological insulation can lead us to believe that the other guy is our enemy.

It’s not quite that simple.  And it’s nothing new.  A case study from 1000 BC nicely illustrates both points.

Roughly three thousand years ago, King David became king of Israel after King Saul was killed in battle.  Saul’s people resented David’s rise. In their minds, it was us vs. them.  Good guys vs. bad guys.  (Sound familiar?)  David was the enemy.

However, the biblical back-story makes it clear that Saul had lost God’s favor by his own disobedience and that God anointed David as the next king.  It was Saul who was hostile toward David.  David did not threaten Saul, even when he had the opportunity.

David was not Saul’s enemy.  Saul had set himself against God.

Fast forward a number of years to when David’s son Absalom led a successful revolt against David. (Important context here.) David and his supporters left Jerusalem, weeping and defeated.

A man from Saul’s clan, Shimei, “pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones… he cursed, ‘Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul…‘”  2 Samuel 16:6-8.

Shimei thought David was the enemy.  His reaction betrayed his own angry heart and an incomplete understanding of the situation.

David’s response, “Maybe I deserve it,” revealed humility and faith in the sovereignty of God.  He knew that Shimei was not his enemy.

Today we assert and protect our positions by pelting the other side with verbal stones, or worse. Like Shimei, we have limited understanding and we often attack the wrong enemy.  Whether we know it or not, we are all players in a bigger battle.

The line between us and them is not one of political or ideological or racial or economic identity.  It is between those who are with God and those who are against Him.

God does not take our political, ideological, or racial sides.  It is we who must align ourselves with Him.  He is God.  He is for Republicans and Democrats.  He loves the rich and the poor.  He wants the allegiance of citizens and aliens.  He celebrates people of all races and ethnicities.  In Christ there is no us vs. them.

However, we most certainly have an enemy.  He is an equal opportunity destroyer, and his tactics include lies, fear, hatred, and oppression.  He hates the right and the left.  He uses the rich and the poor alike for his own murderous purposes.  He despises people of all races.  He is our enemy.

When we fight each other we fight the wrong enemy.

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”  1 Peter 5:8

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28

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Deconstructing Disasters Du Jour

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What is today’s disaster du jour?  It might be a genuine catastrophe, like the violent conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, MH17, or vulnerable children at our borders.  Or, perhaps it’s the usual polarized political theater in Washington inciting fear of the … Continue reading

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Reaction to the Hobby Lobby Decision: Two Truths and a Lie

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The recent Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby is a cultural lightning rod.  The ruling stands, silent and immovable, but the reaction to it has put on quite a show. Rather than discuss the ruling (quite enough has … Continue reading

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If Only: Letting Go of Regret (book review)

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What do you do with your troublesome “if only” moments, a.k.a. regrets?  I tend to ignore them, safely stashing them in a mental holding cell because facing them feels like living Groundhog Day without the power to change anything.  No fun. If Only: Letting Go of Regret, by Michelle Van Loon, … Continue reading

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Stand in Awe of God’s Yes

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In the three weeks between Memorial Day and June 8th we celebrated a college graduation, an important medical school milestone, the birth of a baby, and a wedding. The busy days surrounding this convergence of major life events featured a vehicle clogged driveway, re-inhabited bedrooms, and a large and lively crowd … Continue reading

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Heaven’s Headlines in the Days Before Jesus Died

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Originally posted on Connecting Dots…to God:
If heaven published a newspaper, what would the big stories have been in the days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus? And what would Jerusalem’s newspaper have reported during the same week? Publisher’s note: These…

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Don’t Confuse Suffering People with the Problem of Suffering

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Suffering presents us with a theological problem: If God is good and all powerful, then why does he allow people to suffer?  It is a fair question. Here’s another one:  What is the best way to help a friend who is suffering? It is important not … Continue reading

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Four Constructive Questions to Ask Yourself in January

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Did you set goals for yourself at the beginning of 2013?  If so, did you meet them?  What are your resolutions for 2014?  Ho-hum.  Same old questions. Keep reading for four genuinely constructive questions to ask yourself this January. 2013 was a fruitful and enjoyable year in … Continue reading

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How Does Christmas Come About?

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It’s almost Christmas.  Are you ready? Will you be ready?  I’m not ready…yet. Christmas will come about, like it always does, and I will be ready, like I always am.  However, not without some chaos and confusion.  Every year I determine … Continue reading

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Give the Gift of Relationship this Christmas

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Are you wondering what to give your loved ones (who don’t need anything) for Christmas?  I have an idea for you! Invest in your relationships this Christmas. Christmas gift giving in my extended family has morphed from all of us exchanging gifts with each other (very fun … Continue reading

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