"Us" and "Them"

September 28, 2022 | Monty Waldron

The mid-term elections are right around the corner! Already, media outlets are trumpeting their unrivaled coverage of what looks to be a fierce struggle for power and control. Ideologies are clashing among the populace like few other times in our nation’s comparatively short history.

It’s moments like these where our identity as Christ followers can be stretched and challenged. We’ve been reminded a lot recently in the book of Ephesians of our primary identification of being “in Christ.” Simultaneously, we are citizens of our country with very real rights and responsibilities, coupled with values that align with some and conflict with others. How do we walk that out?

I suppose it could go without saying, but the irony of such vehement division in a country known as The UNITED States is stunning. The gaps seem to grow vaster with each passing month. Listen carefully, everywhere you go—almost inevitably you will hear the conversation take a turn to “us” and “them.”

Seriously, pick a category! We orbit around opposition like the moon around our planet: Young and Old; Powerful and Oppressed; Blue and Red; Rich and Poor; My team and Their team; Homeschool, Public School and Private School; Liberal and Conservative; Urban and Rural; Winners and Losers.

It is ever so tempting, isn’t it, to accentuate our alignment with various temporal tribes, and erode our most important and essential association as those who have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). It’s no wonder that Paul passionately urged the early church in Corinth,

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)  

So, consider a handful of jaw-dropping similarities we can unite around…

  • Every human being is made in the image of God, i.e. rational, relational, creative and influential (Genesis 1:26-27; James 3:9). This affords ALL of us profound dignity and worth.
  • Every member of the human race is sinful and “under the power of sin” (Romans 3:9, 23). This means that ALL of us—not some of us—are spiritually broken, regardless of how good we might appear on the outside.
  • EVERY person—no exceptions—will one day die and then give an account of his/her life before their Creator (Hebrews9:27). That gives the brevity of our lives monumental significance!
  • ALL people, regardless of any earthly distinction, have a singular path available to them which leads to eternal and abundant life (John 14:6; 10:10; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:10-12).
  • EACH of us, without any regard for our past, are guaranteed forgiveness and adoption into the family of God if we genuinely ask for it (Romans 10:11-13; Acts 2:21).

When it comes right down to it, there is ultimately only one “us” and “them” scenario—those who believe the above, and those who don’t. We’re all free to believe what we want, but we’re not free to escape the consequences of our beliefs. Truth answers to no one, but invites all to find refuge within its reality.

As we enter the upcoming political firestorm, let’s heed Paul’s words and preserve unity with great persistence. The things we have in common truly are the things that matter most in this life and the next. And don’t we have a much better chance of navigating our differences with unity intact when our shared human condition is primarily in view?

Those of us who do believe the biblical narrative have no room for pride, no reason for hostility; only great reasons for gratitude. Our highest aim in this broken world should be to lovingly help all the “thems” we know—those who have yet to believe—to find their way by grace through faith into the community of “us.” After all, someone did that very thing for us when we were a “them.”