Divided We Stand: How To Reach the Other Side

I’ve been thinking divisions lately, since they seem to be so prominently highlighted in conversations, the media, and politics. Really, we divide  our world into two basic groupsUs” and “Them.” That’s it.

There’s the “Us,” which is the socio-economic group we identify based on what we think is important. Things like race and culture and gender and religion factor into the “us.” And other things like sports allegiances, dress standards, or homes also create groups we can identify with.

We are often identified by the part of town in which we live like:

  • The North Side
  • The Valley
  • Hillside
  • 14th Street Subdivision  

There’s a huge swath of the world we simply don’t identify with or understand. That’s the them.  This is a realistic chasm.  Our known community understands our preferences and the perception is that the other side has “no idea.” They are different.

Too often, those allegiances and distinctions create an us versus them separation.

We like to be around people who are like us. That’s one reason why churches some 60 years after integration are still basically color-same. That’s why some people never moved to another part of town because they’re uncomfortable with the thought of “them.” It is really “divided we stand?”

The value of different thought

But having people around us who are not like us can be rewarding. And it’s stimulating intellectually, spiritually, and mentally to purposefully reach out and engage those who are not like us.

While some claim Christianity is exclusivejudgmental, and even racist, the very basis of the faith paints an entirely different picture.  Galatians says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The known dividers of the day when this is written are taken on, one-by-one

  • Racism
  • Religion
  • Slavery
  • and Sexism

They were all destroyed with a single verse. “You are all one in Christ.

This is the real diversity, the real inclusion, the real unity. 

divided rock

The challenge

Just because we’re different doesn’t mean we are divided. The media loves to dig up differences. Politicians like to pick at the scabs we are trying to heal. So, I’m different than someone else. I take great umbrage at the general characterization of my attitudes simply because of my position in life. Just because I am white, doesn’t mean I’m racist. Just because I’m Christian, doesn’t mean I’m homophobic. Just because I’m American, doesn’t mean I hate Muslims.

Admittedly, I’m comfortable with my own people. Government worker. Christian. Suburban. Middle-age. But I confess my need to stretch my mind and my spirit. I’m going to purposefully find ways in the next few months to connect  with “Them”  and see if I can jumpstart my soul. I do so not out of guilt or the need to make penance, but to see if there is something new for me to learn.

What suggestions do you have?  Have I oversimplified the issue? And how about you?

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  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com tcavey

    I think you have a balanced approach. Yes, we are all in “groups” but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends with people who are different.

    I think far too many people over complicate it.

    For me, I’m a Christian but my some of my closest friends (including my best friend) are not Christian. These relationships work because we are respectful of each other and open to listening to various view points.

    I have encountered many Christians who disagree with my friendships. But it’s really not an issue for me because who I am is found in Christ. Christ managed to have associate with those from diverse backgrounds and I believe it is His will for us to do the same.

    • http://redletterbelievers.com David Rupert

      If our ministry isn’t reaching the kinds of people Jesus reached, then maybe our ministry needs another look.

      And if you are criticized because you are hanging around “the wrong kind of people”, it kind of sounds like you are on the right track.

  • http://betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspot.com Betty Draper

    I found myself spending so much time in my Christian bubble that I on purpose joined a writers group and found a group of “them”. It was a challenge but after going several times we all found a little something that we could call common ground. One ladies was Hindu, one Catholic and the rest named no religion. When anything come up about religion they would turn to me for answer, I found that very interesting. One guy was single, in his 50′s, he was so smart. The Hindu lady had traveled all over the world. One lady was confined to a walker, she could really write fiction. I have not been able to go for a while just due to our own ministry travels but I hope to check back in with them soon. My drive to be the light in the darkness gives me courage to do such things. I like having a mixed group of women friends, singles, divorced, widowed and some married like me, they keep me actually more even out, help me not be so narrow minded. Good post brother…would love to hear how you on purpose get out side your comfort zone.

    • http://redletterbelievers.com David Rupert

      It is amazing once we venture off our own personal reservation what we find. I’m looking for more and more of those opportunities.

  • http://www.josephjpote.com joepote01

    Sometimes, it’s as simple as expanding the “us” we see ourselves belonging to.

    Us can mean all Americans, or all Christians, or all humans.

    We have something in common with every group of humans.

  • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra Riggs

    Of course, you know I love this conversation. Here’s the passage that drives me:

    “The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.” Ephesians 2:14-15

    Sometimes, I wish God had given me a different passion—something that went over well with people. But, instead, he has asked me to keep talking to the North American church about all the ways we divide ourselves. I’m so excited to read this post, David. I pray God blesses you beyond your wildest imagination as you intentionally step beyond your comfort zone.

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    • http://redletterbelievers.com David Rupert

      Deidra, You have dared to discuss many “Forbidden topics” on your blog in regards to Race. The anonymous post from a granddaughter of a Klansman a couple of weeks ago was chilling. And yet, through all these divisions we see the healing reconciliation of the gospel. IT can’t be done any other way. Not politics. Not redistribution. Not laws.

      The “us’ will never become the “them” until we are one day reunited in heaven. But until then, we can bask in the glow of the saviors love for us and our love for each other.

  • http://thoughthouse.org Micah

    Absolutely love this! I think it’s one of the most beautifying things about the gospel and one of the most enriching things in life when we take the opportunity to transcend the usual dividing lines of background, class, generation and culture. And you’re right, we learn so much through doing this.

  • http://sukofamily.org Caleb Suko

    Well this is a huge problem in Ukraine right now. It’s amazing how fast people can take sides and what seemed like a clear right and wrong issue can be turned into an us versus them issue. That has happened in an extreme way in Ukraine with Ukrainians/Russians. I hope the church can rise to this and say, “here we are one”!

  • http://www.theregoi.com Floyd

    Well said. “We’re all one…” Not to mention that we’re really all more alike than we are different.

  • http://dianatrautwein.com Diana Trautwein

    Love this a lot, David – thank you!

  • http://www.joyinthestory.com vanessa nartey

    Thank you David for braving such a topic as this. The focus of my church this year is: “A great committment to the great commandment and the great commission will build a great church. ” I believe God’s clear edict to followers of Christ today is to love Him by loving others as we love ourselves. For me, the only way to do this is to see others as God sees them: His precious creation – - fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.

    So, no matter one’s language, geography, skin tone, or physique – - I am to love, respect and honor my neighbor as evidence of my love of The Creator. Having settled this in my own soul, it is easy to look at another and realize that at our core, we have the same basic human needs . it is only the exterior that differentiates us, and man judges by the exterior and God by the heart.

    Thank you for broaching this discussion. May God bless you with continual revelations.

    Vanessa

    • http://redletterbelievers.com David Rupert

      Vanessa, thank you for visiting and weighing in. You are right about “The First Thing”, which is to love, respect and honor others because we love Christ first! In that perspective, we have no other choice


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