Guest speaker Sandra Unger speaks about what it means to be part of the Jesus Tribe. She discusses the reasons people are prone to label people so quickly. She talks about the common place occurrence of tribalism within our culture, and how as Jesus people we can work to overcome such separations today.
As humans we naturally group ourselves into tribes; we do this through skin color, race, or gender. The tendency to categorize people as either ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ our tribe is deeply imbedded in our conscious nature. It often happens without us knowing it is going on. We place people into tribes for all sorts of reasons, from important differences to humorous preferences. There are tribes formed around political parties, sporting teams, and even a person’s choice of computer brands (think Mac or PC). It is this tribalism mentality that causes us to think in ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ categories. Aristotle said this about tribalism, “It involves thinking you know what other people are like without knowing them.” The truth is that we simply cannot know anything about a people group that would apply to everyone in that group.
Science has shown that this mental assessment is the prevalent reaction for humans when engaging with a new person, but science has also proved that humans also have the ability to override this mechanism. To be part of a tribe is not the issue. It is the thought pattern leading to tribalism that can be dangerous. “Isms” are those things that cause us to separate from a group of people who are different from ourselves; racism, sexism, etc. As people of Jesus, however, we must first consider ourselves to be part of the Jesus Tribe.
Jesus came to create a tribe that includes all nations, skin colors, races, classes, and genders. In Rev. 7:9-10, a future vision of this tribe is seen in the perfected heaven all worshipping the Lamb together. In Matt. 6:9-13, Jesus teaches us to pray that this future Kingdom be brought to earth today. As people of the Jesus Tribe we are to be working to bring this reality right now in our lives. The people belonging to the Jesus Tribe are those who can fearlessly go to wherever help is needed. Those in the Jesus Tribe have the ability to see things differently than the rest of the world sees them.
In order to become the Jesus Tribe that can bring about this type of change we must be willing to learn to be game changers in our culture. Meta-cognition is the ability our brains have to know what we are thinking about, while simultaneously being capable to control those thoughts. Although meta-cognition is a fairly newer scientific word, the New Testament discusses this very spiritual discipline. The Apostle Paul tells us in both Romans and Ephesians that we should be working to renew and transform our minds by the working of the Holy Spirit. When we begin to objectively take note of our thoughts, we can then work to reduce stereotypes. In the end, we should seek to find the things that bring us closer to another person when we meet them, rather than immediately defining all the differences that separate us.
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2 thoughts on “The Jesus Tribe”
Thank you Sandra for your message and being able to reflect on tribalism.
In the creation narrative, we go through the days with the comment that God saw that it was good and, with the culmination, it was very good. The implication here is in terms of function and not visual appearance…..although one, no doubt, goes hand in hand with the other.
We also find great diversity within creation at many levels…..whether it be landscapes, clouds, plants, animals and humans, to name a few.
So the magnificence and glory of God is seen in this vast diversity and unity that He sustains (as a side bar, to attempt to make an idol to represent God can only be pure nonsense).
Post the fall, dysfunction enters the creation which, appears to be the origin of tribalism. No longer can the creation exist in unity but disunity. This is seen both for the animal kingdom and for man…..indeed we later classically see the twelve tribes of Israel which, although commencing in unity, were later fractured with disunity.
Then at the Cross we find in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:9-10, that through Jesus:-
‘For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.’
So we find in Sandra’s focus scripture:-
‘…a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes….’
All tribes of creation have been restored to unity……with this outcome further emphasized in Isiah 11 prophecy:-
‘The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain….’
In other words, the functional unity of God’s creation (its full Glory) will be restored where all aspects will fully relate to each other in love with no fear, conflict or tribalism being present.
For those wanting to be further challenged in this matter may wish to also watch Greg and Sandra’s excellent Ultimate Compassion presentation of three year’s ago…..don’t they age wonderfully ;-)….and the title typo “Spiritual Warefare” is also interesting:-
“Tribes” can form for a whole host of complicated reasons often revealed in historical retrospect. Thabiti Anyabwile has written an interesting article entitled – “Christian Tribalism in the Era of Democratized Publishing” on the “PURE CHURCH” website. He essentially breaks things down into three sub-categories –
• Relational Inclusivists
He states –
“On one level, the problem exists simply at the label of labeling. We have and need ways of describing ourselves, our commitments, and our ambitions. The natural tendency is to create a moniker, a one-word or one-phrase representative of deeper meanings. I don’t know that this is avoidable or good even if it were avoidable. We’ve been naming things since Adam, and good names carry meaning, history, and identity. That’s why any call for doing away with labels won’t work. Sometimes we hear things like, “Can’t we just call ourselves ‘Christians’?” But what is “Christian” but a label? And what must “Christian” mean in order to escape a reductionism that leads to rank individualism? We need labels–good labels– that communicate who we are. So, we’ll never escape naming ourselves and the quest for a one-size-fits-all tag seems quixotic.”
The need to belong and to know that we really matter in some way, is inherent to our own human nature. “Tribes” i.e. – a dedicated body of believers, can provide a safe circle where we are able to reach a fuller expression of ourselves and our abilities as God intended them to be. On the other hand however –
“I think, tribalism is a mental prison…and pride of identity coupled with arrogance is one of the leading factors that limit one’s ability to abandon it.”
― Duop Chak Wuol