This Upcoming Political Season: Can We All Avoid the “Them” and “Us”?

”Finally when will it be enough
To find there’s no ‘them’
There is only us
There’s only us”

-Thrice, “Only Us”

As you know, I haven’t blogged on my personal account in a while. Running a martial arts school and keeping up with three daughters keeps me busy!

But this time, I had to. The thought bubbled up inside me.

 

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

-Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

 

I’ll sum up the thought before I get started, for those with a short attention span or little time.

  1. This post is me imploring all Americans to make sure their political system is subservient to their values, as opposed to making their values subservient to a party’s platform. (Surely you aren’t going to match a party on EVERY topic, are you?)
  2. This post is me imploring all Christians of all political positions that while EVERY political party creates good guys and bad guys, anybody who seeks to be a disciple of Christ and a student of the Bible must divide the world into only two groups: The redeemed and the sought-after. The desired. The chased.

 

No matter your “side”, you are taught to be “for” a group and “against” a group. Our history taught us, both on December 7th, 1941 as well as September 11th, 2001, that nothing unites our country faster than an enemy.

We’ve seen this in middle school and high school as well, haven’t we? Gossip feels so tempting and alluring because pointing out someone’s flaws and mistakes is a highly effective way to get an “in” with the crowd. Having an enemy unites us. Creating an “us” and a “them” is a quick recipe for community.

Sociologists believe that this “tribalism” used to be part of helping us survive. A feeling of aversion and distrust of the tribe that looks, speaks, and acts different was part of survival.

The quick-and-easy route to unity is to create a shared enemy.

 

And the leaders of BOTH sides of our current political spectrum know this. (You didn’t REALLY think it was just one side, did you?)

I mean, the further polarized you get, the worse it gets, sure.

On the right side, you have nationalism. Our team is America, and the bad guys are those terrorists and illegals, attempting to either attack us or syphon our resources. On the far right, you have a belief that our country is better than other lesser countries, and that our culture is better than those other, backward cultures.

On the left side, you have class struggle. It is not necessarily our country who is our team, but rather, the poor and disenfranchised are being oppressed and wronged by big businesses and the politicians in their pocket. On the far left, you have those who would like to see wealth redistribution enforced by the government.

 

Now, if you lean slightly (or more) to the left, you might have read that and thought that the nationalists and the Neo-Nazi’s outnumber the “actual socialists”. If you lean to the right, you might believe that those “socialists/communists” outnumber those Nazi’s, and that the media is blowing it out of proportion.

I’m not here to debate either one of those. All I’m saying is this: EVERY political entity out there tells you that there is an enemy out there, and that they are on your side to stand against that enemy. It’s an effective way to “sell” you on their vision, and why their platform should earn your time, your voice, and maybe even your money.

 

Good thing I, Carson Clews, am not like that at all. Except I am. I find it inside my own heart. I can see it. When someone is just like me, I feel at ease. Don’t you? When someone has a different culture, a different background, a different way of speaking, a feeling rises in me that says I need to keep my guard up.

(I don’t think this makes me bad. I think that good people are not the ones who don’t have bad feelings, but those who have bad feelings but keep those feelings subservient to their values.)

 

“Us” and “Them” in the world

In every setting, micro or macro, I see someone creating an “us” and a “them”. Elitism is one of the outworkings of the sinful nature, or the Id (from Freudian psychology).

Within the world at large, we see it in racism (I remember a speaker at Corban saying “If you believe that racism actually doesn’t happen nowadays, then I want the white people in the room to imagine what your parents would say if you brought home a black person you were dating.” Multi-racial relationships still raise eyebrows, don’t they? To pretend that racial prejudice doesn’t exist anymore is naïve.)

Within businesses, we see it in “perks” and “Gold Memberships”. Something, ANYTHING that can make us one level higher than those others. To acquire a higher level of “prestige”.

 

“Us” and “Them” in the Church

Within the Church, we see it in certain doctrinal dogmas. All who are in Christ are one with Him, but although we don’t admit it, listening to just Christian music makes you a SUPER Christian (many people are greatly benefitted by regulating what goes into their ears. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about that in business. Pumping your head with positivity). Maintaining virginity before marriage makes you a SUPER Christian (by the way, great idea. Having sex with the one you’ve committed your life to is definitely way less risky than committing to the one you’re having sex with. Apparently our brain is better at choosing a mate than our genitals. Who knew?). While we seek wise decisions, this desire for elitism in our hearts is always looking for ways to create an us and a them.

In fact, on that topic, the church made a huge mistake for years that was directly contradictory to Scripture. Out of our fears of the life-altering consequences of teenage premarital sex, we wrongfully taught (I am part of the church, I was there, I remember hearing this and passing it on, so yes, I mean we) young women that however many men they had kissed, or slept with, or gotten physical with, that this lessened their “value” to their future husband (To stay consistent, we tried to teach the same thing to young men, so that we wouldn’t be all hypocritical and imbalanced).

But this concept is in no way consistent with Scripture. In fact, Scripture gives us a picture of prostitutes who are redeemed and honored and clothed. To teach or even imply that virginity makes one more “valuable” than a non-virgin is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ.

 

Whether in politics, in church, or in small social settings, Christ seeks to create “One” where we seek to create an “Us” and “Them”.

 

So if you lean to the right, I encourage you to stay away from the narrative that the invaders are coming for our resources (And if you are staying away from it, great!). How can America HELP the world? How can the world help us? How can we work together?

If you lean to the left, I encourage you to stay away from the narrative that every financially successful person is greedy and big business is out to screw over the little man. There are greedy people in big business. Yes. There are also generous people in big business. There are big companies that ask “How can we do right by our employees?” Seek out those stories. They are there.

 

And Christians, I used to think that Christians shouldn’t get involved with politics, because Christ doesn’t fit well into EITHER party. While I still believe that Christ doesn’t fit into either party, I do believe that there are good Christians who are called to push for political change. But I implore you to do these two things:

 

The second most important one is that you don’t try to make your position the “Christian” position. Left-leaning Christians would like to see the government doing more for the poor, and they call the right-leaning Christians out for voting “against” the poor. Right-leaning Christians can care about the poor, but they believe that the private sector does a better job than the government. However, right-leaning Christians, you can’t ignore that there are some damn good programs out there. It’s naïve to ignore programs like WIC or food stamps. Programs that keep Dave Ramsey’s “four walls” up (Food, shelter, clothing, and transportation) are a benefit to society, not a “handout”. If one person takes advantage of the system, but 2 or 3 use it because they need it, then I certainly don’t want to see the system go away.

 

The first most important one is that your political stance remains subservient to the One you’ve built your life upon. Don’t fit Jesus into your politics. Rather, make Jesus LORD of your politics.

And unless I’m missing something here, this will inevitably result in this: The world will be divided into those Christ HAS, and those Christ yearns for. Our enemies are not flesh and blood. If they are flesh and blood, then they aren’t our enemies.

 

Thank you for reading this. When the Democrats tell us that big business is our enemy, or when the Republicans tell us that illegal immigrants are the enemy, I hope God’s word and the Holy Spirit give us clarity of mind and clarity of vision.

 

”Finally when will it be enough
To find there’s no ‘them’
There is only us
There’s only us”

-Thrice, “Only Us”

 

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

-Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

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