“Father, deliver me from tribalism.” This has been a consistent prayer of mine these days. Like all humans, I know that I am prone to unconsciously identify too closely with a group that shares my values and prejudices. It is so much more comfortable and “safe” to belong to a group of likeminded people, isn’t it? Especially, when we are “right.” (Sarcasm)
Lately, I have reflected on the reality that as Christians we are aliens and strangers on this planet. And, to be too closely aligned to any tribe – Republican, Democrat, American Patriotic, Evangelical Christian, “Any Brand” Christian, Pro Trump, Never Trump, Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, etc. – deters us from actually manifesting what we as followers of Christ are called to manifest – the unworldly love, power and wisdom of God in a world lost in division and deception. Unfortunately, we can participate too easily in this division and deception through being too attached to any one group or point of view.
How do I know if I am too attached to “my tribe?” I know by paying attention to my reactions to those who belong to a different tribe. Here are a few signs: being judgmental, rejecting the person along with their beliefs, inability to listen to another point of view, only listening to those who agree with me, only seeing and pointing out what is wrong with “the other tribe” and not seeing the same thing exists in my tribe, experiencing in my heart a distance from others which reveals a lack of compassion for them and lack of curiosity about who they are and why they believe what they do, being convinced that my tribe is “right” and yours is “wrong.”
I have experienced all of these to one degree or another. And, my prayer is “Lord, have mercy on me. Free me from tribalism and anchor me in the truth of who I am – a stranger on the planet – and show me who YOU are and how you see this world.” With every embrace of my alien status in this world I take a small step out of my tribal security – and the deception that can go with it – asking God to show me what He sees.
Because I know that he is not an American Patriot, or a Republican, Democrat, Evangelical, Pro Trump, Anti Trump, Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter tribe member. By the way, I have sympathies for all of these tribes and many of their values. But, I know what happens when I jump all in on any one of them. I lose the greater experience of knowing the mind and heart of God.
If these thoughts have inspired you to reflect on any “tribalism” in your own life I would encourage you to click on the link below. Michael Warden, in this brief article, shares seven keys to make sense of all the news, information and media input that we receive on a daily basis. Michael does not take a “left or right” view of the media but gives an honest assessment of how all media is prone to manipulating its readers and that we, as partakers of media, bring our own biases to it. He also gives some ideas about how to be wise and humble in our approach to what we take in and how we relate to others. The content of the article will be helpful for anyone too attached to any one tribe and who would like to be more aligned with being an alien in this world.
God’s peace and love to you all,