How Jesus Uses Tribalism To Subvert Our Tribalism

How Jesus Uses Tribalism To Subvert Our Tribalism May 13, 2019

Image: The Naked Pastor (Used by permission)

Next weekend I’ll be leading a few sessions with people in El Paso, Texas to talk about how our political tribalism is dividing us and keeping us from fulfilling our mission as followers of Christ.

This morning I woke up to a post where someone – a Republican Christian – called me a Liberal [I’m not] and told me I was a dumb-ass, and said I “wouldn’t know Jesus if he slapped [me] in the face.”

Of course, if Jesus did walk up and slap me in the face it wouldn’t be Jesus, and my response would be to turn the other cheek. But, this post did illuminate my point: Christians in America today are more “American” than “Christian.”

Why is this? Because, quite frankly, most Christians seem to identify more with their political ideology than with Jesus.

This is tribalism. We find people who think like us. We form a tribe around our beliefs. We start to see those outside of our group as stupid, evil and foolish. We demonize them. We excuse our tribe for doing the same things they do because we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, while we assume the worst about “them.”

But Jesus isn’t like this. His “tribe” isn’t tribal. In fact, Jesus always treated those outside his tribe – the Romans, the Samaritans, Women, Lepers, etc. – with great love and mercy.

As I’ve been meditating on this, I realized something I’d not noticed before: Jesus actually uses our tribalism to subvert tribalism.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking to an audience of Jewish people. He knows they hate the Romans. He knows they hate the Samaritans. So, he uses that to call them to abandon their tribalism.

How? By pointing out that “those pagans” only love the ones who love them in return. Now, we’re better than them, right? We don’t want to be like those people, do we? 

Well, of course not!

Exactly. So, why don’t we show even more love than “those pagans”? Why don’t we love those who hate us? We should love those who don’t love us back. That would not only make us better than those pagans, it would make us like God who, by the way, loves us and them equally the same.

Uh…wait. What was that?

Yes. God loves the righteous and the unrighteous; the Romans and the Hebrews; the Samaritans and the Jews.

So, if we don’t want to be like “those people” then we should prove that we’re better than they are. What better way to do that than to love more than they do? To love like God loves. And that means, we can’t really hate “those people” anymore.


Jesus leads a tribe than isn’t tribal. His tribe embraces everyone, accepts everyone, loves everyone, and blesses and serves everyone – just like our Heavenly Father does.

I love that.

Don’t you?


Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

Join me this summer at one of these upcoming events:

*El Paso, TX – May 19 “United We Stand”

*Costa Mesa, CA – June 22 “United We Stand”

*Hot Springs, NC – July 11-14 “Wild Goose Festival”

Want Keith to come speak at your church or in your home town? Learn more HERE


Browse Our Archives