Us and Them in the church

dog and catI wanted to continue the discussion about “us” and “them” in the church. I think one of the greatest challenges that Christians continually face is this question of groups/factions/cliques/parties within the church.

On the one hand, let’s accept the fact that we are always going to find those with whom we feel more affinity than others. It’s okay to have friends. As I heard Lynn Anderson say once, it’s okay to have circles in the church if everyone is in a circle.

I’m talking about rivalries. That feeling that “they” are trying to do something that “we” don’t want them to. Sometimes it’s about language. Oftentimes it happens based on age. Sometimes it’s about outlooks. It can be about worship styles, preaching styles, songbooks or pew Bibles.

The problem is, for most of us, this suspicion of “them” arises time and again throughout our Christian life. It’s not a one-time decision, but a continual choice to NOT label, to NOT distrust, to NOT scheme to get our way instead of their way.

We need to emphasize the things that unite us, for they trump all that may divide. In Christ, there is no us nor them, there is only we Christians, we church members, we brothers in Christ.

I’d like to hear your suggestions as to how to overcome the natural tendency to be factious.

photo from and Longridge Kennels

3 thoughts on “Us and Them in the church

  1. Vern

    From my experience the breakthrough is not in trying to ignore or overcome differences, but to really “see” that there are none. If one hasn’t “seen” the body of Christ, it is pretty useless to try to imagine what really is the body. The “body” is taught mainly by Paul. If we “see” where we are, we will be on our way to living out what we are.

  2. Willow Feller

    I’ve learned to be a lot more accepting of others’ ideas and ways after taking Ephesians 3:10 and the accompanying NIV Study Bible text note to heart: “[God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…”

    Text note: “…manifold= Variegated or multifaceted (in the way many facets of a diamond reflect and enhance its beauty).”

    To me, this says that limiting the reflection of Christ to the world to just one preferred method is like trying to reflect light off my flat, clouded piece of glass instead of allowing the light to shine through a sparkling, 3-carat cut and polished diamond. Our individual perspectives are limited—we need each other! Great post, Tim, thank you.

  3. Gardner

    Thanks for provocative post. On one hand you do have early Christians concerned about “them” – the Nicolaitans, “those who went out from us, but did not really belong to us” (1 Jn. 2:19), gnostics, etc. On the other, I don’t think the legitimate concern for apostasy justifies a lot of the cliquishness we see today. When does the former become the latter? I suppose I’m better at rephrasing your question than answering it. Thanks!

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