“They” are the great enemy. “They” are not one of “us.” At least, that is the usual theory, and I suppose that that theory has some sort of validity. To the Allies the Axis powers were deadly and readily identifiable. To blacks, their slave masters were constant oppressors. To the early Christians, the Roman Empire was a source of erratic persecution that could only be defeated by being saved. Some people do have very odd ideas about warfare.
So who is “they” today? How are we divided? Are we divided? Yes and no. We are engaged in considerable feuding, but our differences are more apparent than substantial and real. Consider this passage from the Book of James.
James 4:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Note how James identifies the source of strife. Instead of obeying God and loving our neighbors, we seek the things of this world.
Imagine living in Nazi Germany. Were the Nazis “they” to the Germans. No. The Nazis were their rulers. The Nazis were the people who promised to put “they” in their place.
Imagine living in the Old South. Were the slave masters “they” to the people of the South. No. The slave masters were just “successful.” Even freed blacks, if they were “successful”, owned slaves. To the people of the Old South, “they” were the Abolitionists, people who opposed slavery.
Imagine being a Christian in the Roman Empire. Were the people of the Roman Empire “they”? Sort of. Christians wanted everyone to become Christians. Unfortunately, the people of the Roman Empire were not too happy with those weird, unpatriotic, atheistic Christians. To the people of the Roman Empire, those early Christians were “they”.
So what about us? Why do we Americans seem so divided? James would say the reason we are so divided is that we are so united in our purpose, friendship with the world. Most of us are too busy pridefully seizing and striving to control whatever and whoever we want.
When we vote, for what do we vote? Do we vote for the best interests of our country and countrymen, or do we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks? If we vote for the best interests of our country and countrymen, then politicians cannot bribe us to buy our votes with other people’s money. On the other hand, if we vote to inflate our egos and fatten our pocketbooks, then we are voting for unscrupulous leaders who can be easily bribed. That has consequences.
So does Jesus divide us? He would have said He does.
Matthew 10:34-39 English Standard Version (ESV)
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
When we have friendship with the world, we have enmity with God. Instead of loving God, we love our self. Then we are truly against everyone because we exist only for our self.
Hence Jesus divides the world into two camps: those who have accepted His offer of salvation and those who have not, the saved and the unsaved.
To become brothers and sisters, we must first choose to humble ourselves, become as children. We must accept adoption by our Father in Heaven. We must become His children.
To Be Continued