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What are the dangers of having an “us vs. them” mentality as a Christian?

us vs. them

An “us vs. them” mentality divides the people in our world into good guys and bad guys, friends versus foes. It divides us based on our differing beliefs, ethnicity, social status, nationality, political ideology, team affiliations, and so on. The “us” group consists of people who agree with our beliefs, share our worldview, and hold to our same prejudices and preferences. In the “them” camp are people who disagree with us or hold a different ideology. There are many dangers in having an “us vs. them” mentality as a Christian, the uppermost being that it is contrary to the heart of God our Father.

Jesus taught that God’s true children love people as their heavenly Father does: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43–48, NLT).

It is natural for people to surround themselves with like-minded individuals who enjoy the same pursuits, share their convictions, and see the world through a similar lens. There’s nothing wrong with desiring peaceful fellowship with others. However, when we take it a step further, problems arise. Motivated by fear, pride, arrogance, preconception, and sometimes ignorance, we ostracize those who don’t share our views and create unneeded polarization. In our need to feel superior, we belittle and villainize “them” as inferior. We boast about our “rightness” or “righteousness” but fail to see the hypocrisy in “us.” Such was the legalistic attitude of the Pharisees (see Matthew 7:1–5; Romans 2:1, 17–24), and as a result they “shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:13, NLT).

Genuine children of God love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. They view all people as image-bearers of God (Genesis 1:26–27; 9:6). They love because the heavenly Father loves all people of the world—every lost, last one of them—so much so that He sent His only Son to die for them (John 3:16–17; 1 John 4:8–11, 16–19; Romans 5:8). He “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3–4, NLT; see also 2 Peter 3:9;). He is patient, kind, and forbearing with unbelievers because these qualities lead people to repentance (Romans 2:4).

In the body of Christ, we are all unique brothers and sisters in God’s united family. Despite our various denominations and divergent doctrinal views, we are commanded to love one another (John 13:34–35; 1 John 4:7–8). If we believe a fellow Christian is deceived about the truth or is walking in sin, we are still called to love that brother. Loving him does not mean tolerating or accepting the brother’s sin, of course, but neither does it mean marginalizing or shaming him. Jesus loved sinners and even ate with them (Mark 2:15–17), but He always fed them the truth that would set them free (John 6:25–59; 8:32). He spoke that truth from a place of compassion and love, and so must we (John 1:17; Matthew 9:36; cf. Ephesians 4:15).

Today, many news outlets and social media platforms thrive on controversy, promoting an “us vs. them” mentality. As God’s people, we must tune out all Christian and secular voices that use inflammatory rhetoric, preach superiority, or rationalize prejudice. Instead, we must listen to God’s Word that says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). We must search our hearts to discover if we have an “us vs. them” mindset in any area. Do we want “us” to be proven right, or do we want “them” to repent and be saved? Because this is what’s at stake.

God opposes attitudes of pride and superiority (Proverbs 16:5; 8:13; James 4:6). He calls us to bless our opponents with kindness (1 Peter 3:9; Proverbs 25:21–22) and pray for their salvation as we “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). We are to be compassionate, humble, and forgiving, like Jesus. We are to exemplify His mercy, grace, and love to those we disagree with.

The apostle Paul explained that Jesus “himself is our peace” because He “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” between opposing peoples (Ephesians 2:11–18). Instead of adopting an “us vs. them” mentality, Christians are to be God’s agents of peace in this world: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:9–12).

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What are the dangers of having an “us vs. them” mentality as a Christian?
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This page last updated: July 13, 2023