Speaking Of Life 1048 | Us and Them
We live in an us and them world. Every day, we hear a group; political, religious, racial, socio-economic; screaming out against the other. Us are all good and them are all bad. Up with us, down with them.
Social Media seems to make this worse. Our comments can be published in front of thousands long before we have the chance to think the words through. Before the next person has even fully read the comments, they can reply and publish their half-formed thoughts to the world. Never before have us and them been able to yell at each other so quickly and so loudly.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple—the classic us versus them parable.
The Pharisee takes center stage and proudly declares:
“God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” (Luke 18:11-13).
Jesus set up the ultimate us/them scenario for his day. The Pharisee, the “us”, is educated, clean cut, devout, and an “All-Israelite” kind of guy. The type of man you wanted at your dinner parties and dreamed would marry your daughter.
The tax collector is the “them.” They collected taxes imposed on their own people by the occupying power, Rome. Tax collectors were the lackeys and sell outs to the empire. They were hated by their own people and considered the bottom of society.
Yet Jesus ends with the twist:
“I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
The outcome shocked his audience. How could this bottom-feeder be the hero of this story? How could this person, the obvious sinner here, be the “justified” one?
Jesus loves to expose what’s going on deep down. There is no us and them. The Pharisee is just as much a sinner as the tax-collector. His sins are less obvious, and since others can’t see them, it’s easy to point the finger at “them.”
While the Pharisee is unwilling to acknowledge his own brokenness or expose his own sinfulness, the tax collector knows his brokenness.
We are all broken, and we all have the same healer. It’s not about us-vs-them, it’s just us. It’s hard to judge “them” when we understand there really is just us. We’re all in need of redemption; we are all recipients of God’s mercy; we all have the same savior.
When we ask God to help us see others as he sees them, we quickly understand there is no them and us, there’s just us, in Jesus.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.