Same Team, Man! Same Team!

After last weeks post, I feel the need to clarify some thoughts.

I don’t dislike you.

In a culture of binaries, this tends to be the thought process many people jump to when confronted with conflicting ideas. You have your opinions and I have mine.

As I’ve said before, I know that Christians tend to be seen as meddlers and bigots in recent times, but I try to live by a “you do you” philosophy. Granted, there are some people who claim to be Christian whom we can all acknowledge have missed the finer points on the gospel of love.

The current cultural and political climate in this country seems to be driving people further apart rather than tie them together. We’ve all dug ourselves into foxholes within foxholes while we lob grenades indiscriminately.

Seeking out those we relate with or those of our own “kind” is called tribalism. Tribalism was a way for us to approximate danger and risk factors as we grew as a species. Different cultures did not coexist well with others and we learned to avoid those different than us. We stuck with our own “kind” much how Cera rebuffed Littlefoot’s friendship.

Three Horns never play with Long Necks!
— Cera Triceratops

 

We’ll search for just about any way to divide and disassociate from each other-

Just look at the Scots and the Irish. Two cultures that would be relatively indistinguishable by an outside observer, yet these two brother countries have a history of fighting and antagonism that goes back hundreds of years (at least according to Braveheart).

The tribalism mindset creates a herd mentality where the success of others is my loss. This perceived threat of a lack in goods automatically leads to tension between us. Steven Handel speaks about tribal mindsets in his articleThe Us vs. Them Mentality: How Group Thinking Can Irrationally Divide Us”-

It appears that thinking of ourselves in terms of groups automatically leads to a kind of irrational group favoritism.

In studies done on minimal group paradigm, participants are usually given an opportunity to allocate money or “points” to other participants, and tend to favor giving points to members of their own group vs. members of another group.

Even more interestingly, it was found that participants will often maximize relative in-group gain (“Group A” vs. “Group B”) rather than absolute in-group gain. This means that participants are more willing to see their Group “win,” rather than have outcomes where all people end up better overall.”

You probably know some people like this, I see it all the time in P.E. class. We play different tag games as warm ups and one such game involves rescuing downed teammates after they’ve been tagged. Kids will go out of their way to rescue a friend, yet ignore others even when their rescue would require less work.

We can also observe tribalism in politics as well.

As I’ve self identified as a conservative Christian, some of you may think you know my political leaning. Allow me to request you dispose of those opinions in favor of my real attitude.

POLITICS IS AN ICKY INDUSTRY FILLED WITH ICKY PEOPLE

Democrat, republican, liberal, conservative-from opposite ends of the political spectrum and everywhere in between- all of them thrive off of creating false binaries and setting us against each other to elevate their own stature. Their speech is calculated, their actions- meticulously planned. We divide ourselves along their terms and castigate outsiders, sometimes violently.

Let me say, while I appreciate our democracy, I also recognize that its continued existence and ability to flourish depends on man, who is by nature a sinful beast. At all times he is seduced by his carnal natures, which tend to be most appealing when in a position of power and authority.

I pledge my allegiance and put faith in my Father God above all men and their forms of government. He is the only true force of love and compassion who cares completely for my well-being, despite what some licentious politicians say.

Speaking of faith, how does God see tribalism?

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

 

This isn’t a commentary on gender fluidity, rather a proclamation that God does not give better salvation to those of a certain nationality, gender or social position. God does not judge us based on paltry things like geographical area and skin tone- we are all the same race to God.

Human

 The sacrifice of Jesus Christ unites us into one body. It was a blood price paid for each and every single human throughout history, despite the lines in the sand we’ve drawn for ourselves. We see this among Christians even now. It seems the modern Christian journey to achieve Heaven is justified in the notion that there is a proportional amount of sinners burning in Hell.

[not that you go to Heaven or Hell the moment after you die...but that’s a different blog on its own.]

God is not so petty

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth
— 1 Timothy 2:3-4

 

God created mankind as a vessel of His love. His plan is and always has been to create a family of like mind and heart. I believe from what God says about Himself in His own book, He is a being of supreme love and compassion and created mankind with the intent to keep as many of us around as possible. However, God does have some prerequisites before we can receive our inheritance. We have been given a life on Earth unique to each of us. God asks that we use this time to A. live in a way that honors Him and B.use the resources given to us for the benefit of others.

What God does to those who choose not to incorporate themselves into Him is up for some discussion. The Pope would tell you they’re condemned to eternal damnation and torture at the hands of Satan, but I don’t buy into that for two reasons. Primarily because the Christian Heaven & Hell as taught by modern theologians was ripped off of the pagan Greco-Roman Elysian fields and Tartarus, but also I don’t believe a God who is love and mercy incarnate would take pleasure out of eternal suffering. Again- that’s a different post for later.

Paul compares our Christian journey to a marathon or a boxing match- very appropriate for the time period. To put things in more of a modern context, think of the race as a ninja warrior or wipeout obstacle course stretching out for miles and miles- each obstacle increasing in difficulty. Yes, some challenges repeat through the course, but if you’re learning then it won’t be as hard the following times. The scary aspect of this game however, is the lack of perceivable goal post. You are always able to see a picture of the prize as often as you need, but are required to run on faith that it awaits you at the end.

While playing the game you never reach the physical goal posts, instead when your time is up you vanish in a wisp of smoke, where you await the resurrection to have your final score judged. The great news however, is the lack of limit to the amount of first place winners and team play is not only necessary, but required.

Sadly, some of the obstacles will be former runners who have turned and set themselves to knocking people off. Our first reaction to these encounters should always begin with trying to get them going the right direction again, but ultimately this may not work. Sometimes you must leave them by that waypoint and hope they catch up. I can help you get over the next wall, or stretch out a hand to pull you from the murky waters of failure, but ultimately, you are responsible for your own salvation. You will not attain a place in the kingdom of God by riding piggyback.

When thinking on tribal terms, if there are victors, then there must also be the vanquished. We are quick to portray each other as the Van Pelt who hunts us through life, but there is something we all need to understand as we plug along through the game.

Satan is the only one is desires your downfall. He is the creature who stalks you on the course, he is the miscreant who revels in your failure. He will cast his shadow on your fellow athletes and cause them to be seen as obstacles as well. In these times we must remember the real enemy is not each other. I am much more interested in us reaching the goal together as allies than adversaries.

So, in conclusion-

Can we all just get along? There’s a giant spinning mechanical robot up ahead and I might need your help.