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

11 thoughts on “Re-Thinking Us vs. Them

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  1. This is a wonderful post! Often we are fighting the wrong battles. Not that the issues of the day don’t matter but if we are truly focused on God’s Word and will – we do what’s right according to God Word and will.

    1. “Not that the issues of the day don’t matter…” They do matter, don’t they? They matter to me and, more importantly, they matter to God. It’s a tricky tension to engage wisely in the culture and politics of our day and yet trust completely in God’s oversight. One thing I know for sure – all of the finger-pointing and name-calling that passes for discussion in our day is not helpful. Thanks for stopping by and for adding your thoughts!

  2. Judy – great post! “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.”

    In these days where conflict turns deadly for 11 y/o girls at slumber parties in gang-infested neighborhoods in the city, or for families living in Gaza or Israel or Mosul, or simply in the name-calling and fury of online debate, we need reminders like yours about who the real enemy is. Thanks.

    1. It seems that’s you and I were thinking about similar issues over the weekend. I’m glad you found this post helpful, as I did yours:)

  3. We look through eyes which are trained by our Western culture and its surroundings. So, it’s easy to get caught up with an us versus them mindset. But if we traveled to the slums of Mumbai, we’d quickly understand the battle is between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.

  4. Thank you ,Judy, for showing us what is really going on in these situations of us vs them. Praying that this sinks deep into my heart! God bless you!

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