I’ve been thinking divisions lately, since they seem to be so prominently highlighted in conversations, the media, and politics. Really, we divide our world into two basic groups — “Us” and “Them.” That’s it.
There’s the “Us,” which is the socio-economic group we identify based on what we think is important. Things like race and culture and gender and religion factor into the “us.” And other things like sports allegiances, dress standards, or homes also create groups we can identify with.
We are often identified by the part of town in which we live like:
- The North Side
- The Valley
- 14th Street Subdivision
There’s a huge swath of the world we simply don’t identify with or understand. That’s the them. This is a realistic chasm. Our known community understands our preferences and the perception is that the other side has “no idea.” They are different.
Too often, those allegiances and distinctions create an us versus them separation.
We like to be around people who are like us. That’s one reason why churches some 60 years after integration are still basically color-same. That’s why some people never moved to another part of town because they’re uncomfortable with the thought of “them.” It is really “divided we stand?”
The value of different thought
But having people around us who are not like us can be rewarding. And it’s stimulating intellectually, spiritually, and mentally to purposefully reach out and engage those who are not like us.
While some claim Christianity is exclusive, judgmental, and even racist, the very basis of the faith paints an entirely different picture. Galatians says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The known dividers of the day when this is written are taken on, one-by-one
- and Sexism
They were all destroyed with a single verse. “You are all one in Christ.”
This is the real diversity, the real inclusion, the real unity.
Just because we’re different doesn’t mean we are divided. The media loves to dig up differences. Politicians like to pick at the scabs we are trying to heal. So, I’m different than someone else. I take great umbrage at the general characterization of my attitudes simply because of my position in life. Just because I am white, doesn’t mean I’m racist. Just because I’m Christian, doesn’t mean I’m homophobic. Just because I’m American, doesn’t mean I hate Muslims.
Admittedly, I’m comfortable with my own people. Government worker. Christian. Suburban. Middle-age. But I confess my need to stretch my mind and my spirit. I’m going to purposefully find ways in the next few months to connect with “Them” and see if I can jumpstart my soul. I do so not out of guilt or the need to make penance, but to see if there is something new for me to learn.
What suggestions do you have? Have I oversimplified the issue? And how about you?