Christian tribalism

I’ve been waiting for someone to call my hand on something. Laymond kind of touched on it the other day. What about the Christian nation as our “tribe”; can we treat non-Christians differently than we do Christians?

I’d say no, not in the sense of being willing to harm non-Christians or cheat them in any way? But I do think it means something to be part of the same family, to be brothers and sisters. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10) We do good to all, but especially to other Christians.

It calls for a balancing act, being fair to others while showing preference to our brothers. Our tribe transcends borders and barriers, but it is our tribe, our people, our nation. We are first and foremost citizens of heaven.

9 thoughts on “Christian tribalism

  1. laymond

    Once again I tread upon thin ice, what does this parable mean ?
    Lk:15:4: What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
    Tim quoted Paul: “let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”
    Once again the words of Paul take precedence over that of Jesus (In my opinion)
    I am not saying we should not treat Christians as well as we do non-Christians, what I am saying and what I see Jesus saying is when we see a person in need, the first question should not be “Are you a Christian” well I guess I just went through that thin ice.

    Didn’t Jesus say something about, I didn’t come to save the righteous, I came to save the lost.?

  2. K. Rex Butts

    This is where the example of Jesus and the things he taught…like loving God, neighbor, one another, enemy…must shape how we relate to those in the body of Christ and those outside. And the rest of the NT writers are consisten with Jesus’ own practice and teachings. We need to remember, that all of the NT books are occasional writings…that is, they are addressing a specific set of circumstances and therefore, like Paul to the Galatian church, may emphasize one aspect (do good to all, especially those within the church) because this one aspect is problematic for its original recipients. That does not mean that any NT writer would say one aspect of love (e.g., loving another) is more important than any other aspect.

    Grace and peace,


  3. Greg England

    I am late on this conversation, but only after I moved away from the deep south did I come to realize our “tribe” (kingdom citizens) existed outside the boundaries set by my religious group. I don’t think we have a problem of anyone trumping the other. It’s a matter of context, not conflicting priorities.

  4. laymond

    Rex, my very sentiments, we can’t take what Paul said in one instance and apply it to all situations. In my opinion we can apply any and all of what Jesus spoke to all situations.

  5. Tim Archer Post author

    Rex, I heartily agree that there is a consistency within the New Testament. We shouldn’t try to set Jesus’ words against Paul’s.
    Our dealings with our Christian family are like our dealings with our physical family. I have an initial responsibility to see that my children are clothed and fed, but that doesn’t relieve me of my responsibility to all men that are hungry and naked.
    That’s what we see taught and practiced in the New Testament. That’s the example we should follow.
    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  6. andy

    First time post here but love the conversation.

    I find it interesting that laymond assumes that the lost sheep is a goat. The lost sheep was part of the flock and wandered off. Doing good to THAT sheep IS doing good to the household of faith.

    Doing good to all ESPECIALLY those in the household of faith is clearly our primary object. The Church, Father’s Tribe, is THE climax of the ages. Of course we need to share the wealth (evangelism and benevolence to the unregenerate), but the great commission is not the greatest commandment. Jesus said (not Paul or John or James, though they are ALL in agreement):

    John 13:34, 35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. BY THIS all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    MUTUAL LOVE between believers, demonstrated out loud and on purpose is what the Son of God said would be our DEFINING mark. When we give preference and deference to one another, when we give each other our best, even at a sacrifice of our own material possessions, when we exhort and encourage each other EVERY DAY in the battles against sin (Heb 3:13)… this is how the world will know we are HIS. Because when we live that way with one another, Christ in INCARNATE again, and if HE is lifted up in our Together Lives, He will draw all men to Himself. Yipeee! 8)

  7. Raskolnikov

    This is precisely the kind of thinking that causes non-Christians to not be attracted to Christ’s message. To be a citizen of heaven is the exact opposite of being or acting like a tribal member. God desires much more of us than being a tribesman, locked into tradition, ancestor/hero worship, and mimicry. To get a good idea of what Christian tribalism is, when was the last time you contacted a former member of your church who made the decision to leave the fellowship. That is tribalism. The tribe’s values, collective identity, and integrity is more important than reaching out to a person, a Christian, a citizen of heaven, who just happens to be a former member. To encourage the tribe is to not understand Christ’s message at all. We should follow Christ, not the tribe.

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