Me vs Them

I hate “Us vs Them” Christians. You know the type: Every other denomination is going to hell in a handbasket, and they have a handle on the truth, and if only somebody would listen to them, the world would be a much better place. They go to small churches and have small minds and occupy small worlds where everybody is against them. They try to convert people to their way of thinking, and scare them off in the process.

That’s the kind of church I grew up in.

Since then, I’ve matured. I’ve realized that us vs them Christianity is evil. I’ve finally gotten a handle on the truth, and if only they would listen to me, the world would be a much better place. I try to convert people to my way of thinking, and scare them off in the process.

Oh dang.

Whilst I was in the shower, I realized that I do the very thing i hate. Except instead of the “them” being the ACLU, the democrats, the gay rights people, and Barack Obama, my “them” is… people who play the us-vs-them game.

I’ve told my dad on several occasions, “Just because Jesus said that all men would be against you because of Him doesn’t mean that if all men are against you it’s because of Jesus.” Or, “Just because everybody disagrees with you doesn’t mean you’re right.”

But I tend to believe that the opposite of what I’ve said is true, for me. For some reason, I find fringe Christian ideas compelling. The less likely an idea that has some kind of scriptural support is to find support among people in churches I grew up in, the more likely I am to listen to that idea.

Those people in churches I grew up in are judgmental. They judge everyone outside of their little club. And their little club just
keeps
getting
smaller.

“Those people.” I’ve become the very thing that I hate. I’m judging them for judging others.

If you’re one of these people, I’ve probably judged you.

  • People who think they’re holier than me.
  • People who are trying to be holier than me.
  • People who pretend they’re holier than me.

In short, I’m a judgmental jerk. And here’s the kicker: You don’t have to fit into any one of these categories for me to judge you! I just have to think you do. (If anyone cares, I have the easiest time fitting Baptists and Reformed folks into these categories.)

If you’re reading this, I’ve probably judged you at some point or another. And I will probably do it again.

I’m sorry.

People who are trying to be holier are easy to judge. They want everyone else to be holier, too. But they’re missing the point of the gospel – that God loves us, and we don’t have to try to be holier. God will get us there.

People who think they’re holier are easy to spot. They have a fish bumper sticker, they give testimonies in church, they say “I’d like to thank the Lord for my salvation,” they have tracts in their car (by Jack Chick, no less), and they have Bible verse cards full of verses they’re trying to memorize about devotion to God. They sing songs about holiness, not about God’s love. They sing about their commitment to God and forget His commitment to them. Their churches are trying desperately to be “relevant” to the next generation, but they never will be because they’re avoiding “The world.” Oddly, though, usually when I talk to them, they’re actually quite generous and kind.

Finding people who pretend they’re holier than me is cake. They talk the talk and pretend to be righteous, but they’re out doing… things that I do. They lose their temper over little things (I would never do that!).

And so when i find myself in a church filled with these hypocrites, because I, of all people, know the truth, my immediate instinct is correction. I explain that Christianity is about loving God and people (which is true, to an extent). I explain that God loves them as they are. I send text messages during the sermon. I prepare a list of Bible verses that disproves the main points of the sermon. In short, I become a one-man “us” – a “me,” if you will, that goes off to face the heartless and evil “them:” those horrid isolationist Christians. If only they’d drop their us-vs-them mentality, they might be able to actually help some people.

…Oh.

My problem is that the Us-vs-Them mentality didn’t leave me when I left the isolationist group.

It just changed focal points.

There’s nothing left for me to do but pray. (…uh… I mean… us? Or do I? Dangit!)

God, please forgive me
for walking away from my fellow man
and from my fellow Christians.
For seeing others
not as You see them
but as the Enemy does.
Please give me eyes to see all of Your kids as You do.
Please heal my eyes
with grace.
And let me see them
because they are a part of Your body
and I am a part of You
…as a part of
us;
You and me, Jesus.
…And them.

Dangit.

I mean, Amen.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Me vs Them

  1. Growing up, I was taught to avoid anyone who didn’t believe as we did, a very us-vs.-them mentality. As I’ve realized how wrong that is, I struggle with how to relate to the holier-than-thou types, the type that DO isolate themselves both from the world and from any Christian who doesn’t have the same standards as they.

    As you describe here, I definitely want to avoid becoming a hypocrite and doing the same thing that I see them doing. However, if they are literally preaching law instead of Gospel, they do need to be called out on it! Jesus never hesitated to be very confrontational with the Pharisees and their self-righteousness.

    So how this plays out in today’s world can be very unclear and requires me to walk in love and humility. I want to unite with all true believers in Christ, but also when they start teaching outward standards as the only way to please God, I’ve got to point out that they’re wrong!

Comments are closed.