Us and them, you or me, we are like the lost in many ways, but they are nothing like us. Us and them, “they are,” “we” are not.
Isn’t it amazing how simple it was for Christ to show us who our neighbor was (Luke 10:29), everyone, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, every single person on this planet is related to everyone else, that’s what He meant in part when He told us who our neighbor was. Why He decided to give us different blood types, visual appearances according to geographical areas, and other features that differentiate us from our neighbor has been the topic of endless debates over the centuries, that is His will and way, if He wants me to know, He will tell me. It is of course completely inconsequential, I know who my neighbor is, everyone, and I know how I am supposed to treat them, I am to love them as myself (Mark 12:31).
Try to look at it from God’s perspective, if you will, from the perspective of someone that is not from this planet. Every human being started from just two created beings, and now, whether its only one hundred of them, or as some have suggested there have been one hundred billion since these first two, you are related to the person down the street or across the planet, in the basest root form of the word we are all brothers and sisters. Yet there is still an “us and them” mentality, as if there was someone or a group of individuals on this planet that did not come from here, that snuck in from some other planet and are only pretending to be one of us. This of course has not happened, there is in the best meaning of the word, only us.
There is no “they,” yet they are not like us, they are different. They are from the school across town, they live in another country, they don’t look like us, “they” are those that are not my neighbor. Really? We will do almost anything to find someone who agrees with us about “them,” someone who will understand and agree with our beliefs that “you and me” are not like “them,” and it can move from the most simplistic ideologies to ones that require intense focus, and that focus usually shows its face in its hatred for “them,” if not at least in a disgusted or in a distasteful way. We don’t like the person up the street because he has what we don’t have, or the inverse of this statement, we look down on him because he does not have what we have. “Those people over there” think they’re better than us, or we believe we are better than them because, well, fill in the blank my friends, but you might want to set aside a few hours because the list is long and almost as varied as each person that we share this earth with.
It is a continuing war with our neighbors, our blood relatives, those that we share the same parents with, and this war comes from our own lusts (James 4:1). It doesn’t really matter what form the lust takes, money, fame, power, location, color of skin or eyes, they are not like us, that is reason enough for the war to begin. And what is this first thought of war, the lust that we speak of, no indeed, it is pride, and it is the ground that all evil rests in. It was the first sin, and it did not even begin with humans, but in Heaven itself in the mind of Satan, he just showed up in the garden and informed our parents that it was available to them also. Why did Adam accept the fruit that was forbidden from the hand of his wife, because he wanted to, plain and simple. Why do we have an “us and them” mentality, same reason, because we want to. The choices we make are the choices that we have chosen, and we are accountable for them.
I have always enjoyed using the following analogy when this subject comes before me, we are of course firstly concerned with ourselves, then our immediate family, relatives and friends, then in order our community, city, when applicable our county, state, country, then the rest of the world. You can find fictional books and movies on our loyalty in each of these categories, from the valiant efforts of one man’s struggle to the entire planet pulling together as one to fight the invading aliens from another planet. Our loyalties are almost always based on proximity, whether they are emotional or geographical, there has always been an “us and them,” a “me or you.” I realize that more than likely those that read these letters are either born-again believers or at least professing Christians, ones that do and those that know they should be doing but are not yet, and in many of those hearts at this moment the words of “I know that everyone is my neighbor” is flowing at full speed. Think then on the worst possible location on this planet in your mind, the last place on earth that you would want to be, whether it be the poorest, most destitute place, the most violent, evil place or perhaps a location where only the extremely wealthy live and all others are made to feel excluded, and then go there and love your neighbor. And not just those that are being oppressed, but those that are doing the oppressing. Changes the thought process a little, doesn’t it, makes that “us and them” a little clearer.
Those who will remain lost for the entirety of their lives and spend eternity in torment, and there are many, are not like us, but we once were like them. (Eph. 2:3) We have something on them, so to speak, we remember what it was like before Christ, they do not have these memories. This is why our Lord sends certain of His servants to particular individuals to tell them about Him, because that servant used to be just like that person, and if you were to notice these two fellow humans talking on the sidewalk, you could not tell who was saved and who was not just by looking at them. Who is the Christian, the guy in the suit with the perfect haircut, or the long-haired bearded man with the clothes of a construction worker on, the young girl with the braided hair and tattoos all over her body, or the elderly woman dressed modestly. Unless you go over and listen to them speaking, you will never know, unless you go to your neighbor, he may never hear.
Using our first impressions of a person is probably one of the worst habits that any Christian could ever fall into, for many of our minds have conceived within themselves an idea of what a Christian should look like, and there are as many of these ideas as there are people. If the man behind the podium isn’t dressed smartly or in some fancy robes and sashes, then our impression of his capabilities may be diminished. Have you ever gone to speak with your pastor when he is doing some yard work, dressed in shorts, torn t-shirt, tennis shoes that look like they haven’t been washed in ten years? Same guy isn’t it. Clothes do not make the man, your neighbor doesn’t just live across the street from you or a few doors down in your apartment building, your brothers and sisters, if only in the terminology of the human race, live in one place, this earth.
Almighty God is a separate entity, if you will, He is self-sustaining, and there is none like Him, He is not one of us, we are “they” to Him, and not to be disrespectful to our Lord, but it must just astound Him sometimes to see how we, all being the same, do not treat each other as neighbors. Here is the lesson that our Lord is trying to teach us, saved or lost, “they” are our neighbors, and we are to love them. Doesn’t matter if they love you back or not, doesn’t matter one bit. How are “they” going to recognize “us”? By the love that we show, not only to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but to all our neighbors, to everyone of our fellow brothers and sisters in the human race. “They” are not us my friends, but we used to be them. Go, tell them why you are not anymore, and invite them to be one of us.