“Us” vs. “Them.” It’s how most people see the world. Another word for this is tribalism. And, apparently, tribalism comes quite naturally to us. Here’s what a study titled Tribalism Is Human Nature says:
Humans evolved in the context of intense intergroup competition, and groups comprised of loyal members more often succeeded than those that were not. Therefore, selective pressures have consistently sculpted human minds to be “tribal,” and group loyalty and concomitant cognitive biases likely exist in all groups…. We conclude that tribal bias is a natural and nearly ineradicable feature of human cognition, and that no group—not even one’s own—is immune.
Is the “Us” vs. “Them” Mentality a Result of Evolution?
But let me ask the question this way: Is tribalism–this “us” vs. “them” mentality a result of evolution or is it a result of the Fall? Is our tribalism a reflection of our tendency toward sin? And what about God? Do you think God is satisfied to leave us with our tribal impulse? Or does God want to rescue us from it?
Seeing the World with the Eyes of God
One story in the Christmas narrative that I think doesn’t get enough attention is Simeon’s song over the 40-day-old Jesus. I love how Luke describes Simeon: “righteous and devout,” “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” and “the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25).
In other words, Simeon had a rich inner life of union with God. As a result, Simeon was able to see the world as God saw the world. And what he saw was a world without divisions. This is what happens when we develop a deep inner life. Less and less, do we see the world comprised of “us” and “them.” More and more, the world is simply “us.”
When Simeon saw this baby, Jesus, he knew immediately that this would be God’s “salvation.” Taking Jesus in his arms, Simeon burst forth:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
A World Without “Us” and “Them”
God’s salvation wouldn’t be for “us” only. On the contrary, it would be for “all nations.” It would be for “the Gentiles.” And it would be “the glory of your people Israel.” Yes, Israel was God’s chosen tribe–chosen to bear God’s light and salvation to the whole world. To every tribe. This was Israel’s “glory.”
My prayer is that, like Simeon, I would cultivate a deep inner life of union with Jesus. I want my life to be characterized by the presence of the Holy Spirit. I want to see the world with God’s eyes; a world without divisions. Without tribes. Without borders. Without “us” and “them.”