Us versus Them

I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated with people in leadership positions that invoke the us vs. them mentality.

I get it though. We are threatened by those that think differently and believe different things. Social media has magnified these differences, partly because of the anonymity it provides.

But I’ve had two recent live, in-person experiences where the speaker has used us vs. them when, in my opinion, it was not necessary and perhaps even damaging to their message.

Yes, just in case you are wondering, both were at faith communities.

The first was at a community that, in its own words, is progressive. The leader, in a position of power and influence, made a snide remark that denigrated the Southern Baptist Convention. Was it direct? No. Did it help the leader ingratiate himself with his liberal audience? Probably. Was it necessary? No. For a community that prides itself in acceptance and tolerance, it is simply a shame that people who have a different definition of faith in Christ can be objects of ridicule instead of respect.

The second was at a community that is more on the conservative side of the Christian faith. In the middle of a talk on belonging and identity, he makes a comment on how some people have moved to Nashville because they no longer identified with a place where they had lived their whole lives. Valid point, but then he doubled down and proceeded to make an aside “from states that will remain unnamed.” Again, made to a crowd that he knew would enjoy that snide remark. Necessary? No. Damaging to his message? Maybe. In the spirit of Jesus? Not in my opinion.

Us vs. then is so easy to invoke. It feels good to reinforce the goodness of our own beliefs. But it ultimately negatively impacts both the speaker and the listener. And in the context of faith, especially the Christian faith of following Jesus, we should never ridicule others to make a point.

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