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Against Tribalism: Part I (TCM)

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Satan is winning . . . and we are letting him. It’s a sad reality that I for one am ashamed to admit, but it is a true statement nonetheless. If there is anything Satan is good at, it is accentuating our current flaws and taking advantage of them while they are at their most potent. Human beings are naturally sectarian . . . we are naturally afraid of things that aren’t familiar to us, that don’t make sense to us. This is the reason that race wars break out, why cultural and ethnic genocides occur…because we are afraid. Now I want to be clear, not all fear is bad. The beginning of wisdom and knowledge of God is fear of Him, but fear for the sake of fear, fear of the unknown, now this is not from God. It is Satan preying on our weakness and our disposition to evil (and make no mistake about it, we are oriented to evil). This orientation to evil has affected the church in massive ways, and Satan has taken full advantage of it.

In modern ecclesiology (theology of the Church), there is a study on a sociological phenomenon call tribalism. Tribalism describes the social tendency of human beings to congregate with those that are similar to them. This means that people will naturally gather with those that they are more comfortable around, whose ethnicity, culture, and beliefs are similar to their own. This happens in the Church as well. Congregational makeup is generally made up of people with similar ethnicity, socio-economic status, and theological presuppositions. For example, a congregation in Pontiac, MI is going to look quite different from a congregation in Bloomfield Hills, MI. These two cities are separated by 8.2 miles on the same street . . . but if you were to drive through each city, it would almost look like two different countries. Pontiac, MI is ethnically diverse with a large African American and Hispanic population; it is also one of the poorest cities in the state of Michigan. Bloomfield Hills however is quite homogenous with a mostly white population and being in the top 10 wealthiest cities nationwide. 8.2 miles is all that separates them, and yet when you walk into a congregation in Pontiac it is made of people from Pontiac, when you go to a congregation in Bloomfield Hills it is generally people from Bloomfield Hills.

But I am sad to say that this is not all. Even in ethnically and culturally homogenous communities, we are seeing tribalism occur. Over the last week, I have seen more Christian bashing by other Christians than I would ever care to see. I have seen conservative Christians viciously attack liberal Christians and liberal Christians return in kind. I have seen people I love and respect turn into the very thing they hate, the very thing they are advocating against. It is a sad thing to watch. Over the next two weeks, I am going to go over these two issues in more detail and am hoping to make a case for unity and fellowship within the body of Christ. Peace and blessings, and as always thank you for reading.

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