Us or Them versus Us for Them
Ahh. The Bible. Romans 14. Read this for a second.
14 Welcome those who are weak in faith,[a] but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord[b] is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.
7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister?[c] Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?[d] For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.[e] 11 For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to[f] God.’
12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.[g]
Do Not Make Another Stumble
13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another.[h] 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother or sister[i] is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21 it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister[j] stumble.[k] 22 The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. 23 But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith;[l] for whatever does not proceed from faith[m] is sin.
I had to read this like five times on June 26th. I read it over and over and over again.
I wanted to bash skulls with my education. Challenge views. Tell someone something.
After all “THEY” needed to learn something.
Ever felt like that? Like “those” people, the “others”, they or them needed to be taught something?
Once upon a time, there existed a young defiant punk girl called by God to love many an outcast. We shall call this wild rebel, “Bec.” Anyhoo, Bec grew up somewhere between Appalachia and Atlanta. Bec graduated from her Bible College located between a trailer park and a swamp with a B.S. in Theology. She thought she knew something. So much so, she dared try to correct everyone in internetland about what Bec perceived to be the stupidity of believing in the rapture. At the heart of her motivation, did not sit a deep compassion for the evangelicals or the country white people that Bec once knew in her small town. What lie inside of Bec’s heart? Perhaps a large need to be heard, to be seen as a pastor, and mostly to correct “them.”
After all with Bec’s limited education, and nearsighted focus on her own trauma from southern-fried religiosity, she assumed that “they” needed correction. What Bec did not realize was that her own heart needed some mending. Bec had not been truly healed of all her hurts. Bec remained a baby Christian, with a whole lot of head knowledge. She really didn’t realize that until after college, after seminary, after being kicked out of a denomination, after her marriage was in danger, and after a lot of Bec’s relatives died in close proximity. Rather, what Bec seemingly focused on for many years was her raging heart of hurt towards her past, misunderstanding, and a notion of us versus them. She wanted those folks to really follow Christ. “Those” people. “Them.”
Us Versus Them is so prevalent in our world. Flip on any news channel, regardless of its affiliation and you will hear stories of us versus them. Find a progressive Christian, who seemingly gets so much, but have them talk about republicans and conservatives or heteronormativity. Did you hear love and compassion? or Did you hear a subtle superiority, this “us versus them.” Find a Queer Theologian, or a Womanist Theologian and listen. Find a Conservative Theologian, a reformed theologian. Do you hear us versus them language? I do not believe that we should ever be door mats. But I do believe that some of Christendom has forgotten the basis of Kenosis taught in Philippians 2. Many of us are so busy trying to be heard or trying to correct “others” we forge the dialectic of us versus them. Our hermeneutic reflects rejection and our only reaction is vengeance. We claim we are prophets trying to destroy the idolatry or the evil system, but have we wept over the idolaters and the ones who benefit from the system. Are we like Jesus in the temple? Are we like Jeremiah screaming at the temple? or are we weeping like the prophets? weeping like Christ?
Do we care?
Or does our pain blind us. Once Jay Bakker said “There is no hierarchy in pain.” How true this is. We all have pain. Be it the pain of being a minority in a system that values the majority, or be it the pain of being excluded because of our differences, or perhaps even the pain of perceptions instead of reality. All of us go through pain. What we do with the pain matters. Do we follow Christ only into the Temple to Yell and to Flip tables, or do we follow him also to silence to the cross, and to die for the same ones who have oppressed the poor and sinned egregiously? Christ evolved. Christ evolved from screaming at the Canaanite Woman, who was from a people who oppressed, held slaves, and murdered children. Christ evolved to a compassionate Creature, who said “Father Forgive Them for they Know not what they do.”
Bec deserved to scream. Bec had every right to scream. Bec had been through pain at the hands of men, and white men, and straight white men. Bec had been molested in the church, raped in the church, misunderstood in the church, called a “lesbian and a witch” in the church, kicked out of the church, and persecuted by the church. But would Bec also weep for the Church and Die for the Church? Would Bec follow Christ to the Cross for Kenosis, or only to The Temple for righteous indignation?
You have every right to scream. To accuse. To go to war. But what if you follow Christ?
Would Bec continue to see her progressivism, intellectualism, equality and justice following as superiority over those she deemed legalistic, ignorant, back woods, and lacking love? Or Would Bec change to not see “us” versus “them”
But us for them?
Will Bec go on to be a wounded healer? Bec is the Church, is she not?
Please listen to this new song by Gungor, called Us for Them
Please listen, and as you do, I dare you to see where you have made an “Us” Versus “Them”. Would you be able to die for “Them?”
Click on the link below.
What do you think? Who has been “other” to you? Who are your “enemies?”