Christmas 2021 #4 Peace Overcome Tribalism

 

Christmas #4 Peace Overcome Tribalism

 Psalms 133:1 (MSG)

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! 

 Getting along, harmony, coexisting, collaborating, is the gift of God’s favor upon those that please Him.  This gift creates peace.  Peace occurs when those who were once at odds, fighting with one another, competing against one another are reconciled.  This week we have opportunity to enjoy our Incarnation Celebration, Christmas.  Along with our many family traditions remember it’s a time that calls for “peace on earth and good will to all.”  Believers are empowered to be peace makers.  You are blessed of God when you work to bring peace.

 The angels of the first Noel sang

Luke 2:14 (NCV)

 “Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.“

 Why?

 Luke 2:11 (MSG)

A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.

 Where there is division and strife, bickering, backbiting, devouring one another, the root cause is sin (Galatians 5:15).  Sin is anything that deters, damages or destroys right relationships, healthy relationships, mutually beneficial relationships.  Unrest, no peace, is always because of sin. If you have seen that sin has messed up the relationships in your life, believed that Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice for your sins, so that you can have peace with God (1 Peter 3:18), with yourself and with others, committing yourself to live in the peace God provides (Romans 12:18), God has reconciled you to Himself, and made you a peace maker. If you have never acknowledged the state of your soul, never believed that Jesus is the way the truth and the life, never committed to be Jesus disciple, today you can ask of God to place you one the path of peace.  Even the smallest faith is recognized and God will answer your request. You need to experience the peace of God, the world needs you to be a peacekeeper, don’t wait, don’t find an excuse, make that request right now.  If you do please let me know.

 The reason this world needs peace makers is because of three peace destroyers.  We examined safetyism and discovered that the concept of being safe now includes being safe from ideas that differ from our own.  We examined emotionalism and discovered that feelings become irrefutable facts.  We now know that safetyism and emotionalism prevent peace and result in unrest.  In this teaching we are going to examine tribalism. Tribalism is our next peace stopper that as believers we need to confront and overcome.  

 This teaching is totally applicable to any of your relationships when you are at odds with someone.  Even though we will be talking about how to be a peacemaker between groups, you certainly can apply these principles to making peace between individuals and making peace between you and someone else.

 “Tribalism is resurging. One of its most obvious manifestations can be seen in politics. Today what seems to matter first and above all else is loyalty to one’s political tribe and its leaders, not the facts about an issue, not the truth on any given controversy, not the right policy to adopt — all of these are pushed to the background”(The Virulent Pull of Tribalism (aynrand.org). The best way to understand Tribalism is “US verse Them.”  Human beings are hard wired for groups, it’s a survival thing, we need others to feel secure, we need the help of others to provide, we need the group to confirm our identity. So we naturally are social, and since “like begets like”( ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny). we tend to congregate with people who are like us.  “Birds of a feather, flock together.”  You become like your five closest friends.  That’s why the scripture warns you about who you associate with.  “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV).

 Your tribe tends to believe that your common belief must be true because everyone you are close to believes that same thing.  This is called consensus bias. We all agree therefore we must be right.  If we are right, good, and just, then those who disagree are wrong, evil, and unjust.  If we are virtuous and righteous (in sync with reality and therefore our position is true), any other position is atrociously wrong. 

When your tribe encounters another tribe that holds different beliefs, different perspectives, different ideas, it becomes a fight, polarization occurs, it’s “us verse them.”  “An adversarial mindset occurs in which each side is convinced of its own rightness and insulates the tribe from learning about the other’s perspective” (Here's how we negotiate our way out of tribalism | World Economic Forum (weforum.org).  The result is no peace.

 


        

              

 Is it a number 6 or the number 9?  Is it the letter M or the letter W?  Is it an illustration of an old or young lady? If you disagree with my tribe, then there is only one way to handle the situation:  Destroy you.  Disagree and you are committing blasphemy.  My tribe must win this battle at any cost to protect our sacred.  No peace.

 With emotionalism, decisions are controlled by feelings.  With tribalism, decisions are controlled by loyalty not facts and definitely not independent thinking.  I assume the narrative of my tribe.  To disagree with the tribe is to be disloyal, a traitor.  The tribe then evokes the ban, pushing you out of the tribe, hence the “Cancel Culture.” A person is either totally for you or totally against you.  There is no middle ground.  You must hold the party line on all issues. Pitch it up a notch, canceling may not be enough for the tribe will also seek to demonize and destroy the one who disagrees.  “Us verse them” rips apart people.  No peace.

Don’t think the Church is exempt. We have managed to fracture the unity of the body of Christ with our interpretations of scripture, or doctrines, our rituals, and our rules. There are three major branches of Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.  Under the banner of Protestantism there are 200 major denominations and countless minor independent congregations, not many are working together in unity to bring peace.  Every topic has an “us verse them”—the Incarnation, the Resurrection, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, Ordination, End Times scenarios, Worship styles, The Gifts of the Spirit, scriptural methodology, old Earthers, flat Earthers, Creationists, far right conservatives, and far left liberals. The result is that what was to be the unified Kingdom of God bringing peace to the world now stands as a fractured dysfunction.  No Peace.  “God save us.  God let peace begin in me, and share it with those who disagree with my understanding of living a devout and holy life.”  Additionally, I urge you to think through what you believe because there is an awful lot of misusing scripture to paint rosy pictures and support tribal values.  Question your assumptions.  Don’t be part of the problem, give peace a chance.

I’m not sure where I read this statement: “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together and try to love one another right now” (The Youngbloods, Get Together, 1967).  Ever since I started this series on peace I’ve been trying to make song lyrics out of that statement. 

 Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

 John Wesley said:  “…as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think” (J.W. The Character of a Methodist).  The common goal of advancing the Kingdom should unite us.  Our differences in how this is to be accomplished are not to be adversarial.  [Romans 14:4]

 We’ve got a good picture of the problem of tribalism.  Our task now is how to help the tribes coexist.

1.  Peace begins with you.

 This “Us” vs “Them” mentality is a path that leads to suffering, destruction, and hate. The fight against toxic tribalism starts with you

.  You most likely will not be able to control another person’s responses to various issues and circumstances, but you can control your response.  You overcome toxic tribalism when you yourself make creating peace in priority.  

 Colossians 3:15 (NLT)

“…let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.”

 Become a free thinker.  No longer let your opinions, values, or positions be swayed by popularity.  No longer allow your news entertainment, whether it is Fox News or MSNBC, to be your only source of information.  No longer assume that you are 100% right.  An independent thinker has concrete reasons for what they hold dear because they have questioned their assumptions and they have done the hard work of finding out what is true and what is false fearlessly confronting their preconceived ideas and their own tribes consensus bias.

 2.  Peace among the tribes starts with each other’s stories of grievance.

 Proverbs 18:13 (MSG)

Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.

 We tend to provide an answer without fully understanding what is at stake.  This results in more polarization.  The problem has to be identified, the underlying issue must rise to the surface.  What is really going on here?  What does each tribe really want?  What’s at stake for the tribe?  Identify the problem.  You are searching for the underlying common concern, looking for common ground.  You peel away the emotional appeals and the anecdotal evidence. Discover what the underlying issue is.  Tribes need to gain an understanding the other’s perspectives on the solution to the problem.  This is not the time to fight for your viewpoint, your goal is to establish a common base this invites reasoned thinking to the table, reasoned thinking invites dialogue, dialogue invites collaboration. 

 3.  Peace among the tribes starts with understanding how each tribe would solve the problem. 

Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

 Gaining an understanding of how to solve the problem from each other’s perspective opens doors to previously unrecognized solutions.  Highlight the merits of each solution.  To facilitate the emergence of unrecognized solutions invite an outside observer who has no stake in the issue to the table, to help problem solve.  The goal is to shift desires from wining the debate to the larger question of what is best for all concerned.  Encourage the tribes to generate as many solutions as possible.  The task is to raise the solution with the most merit to the forefront of each groups thinking.    

 4.  Peace among the tribes starts with collaboration.

Collaboration means we agree to work together.  Compromise means I don’t get what I want and you don’t get what you want, we settle on something that we are not 100% behind.  Compromise leads to fighting harder to get what you want next time, and you effectively erase the gains you made in creating peace. 

 Psalms 133:1 (MSG)

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! 

 This process takes time and the desire to find and implement solutions that resolve the issue for all concerned.  There is no longer “us verse them,” now it’s “us in this together.” 

 When tribes are unreasonable, there will be no peace (Proverbs 15:18).  War between the tribes leads to the destruction of what each hold dear.  Sometimes there will be no reconciliation between the tribes (Proverbs 16:4).  Some things are never negotiable (Psalm 119:160, John 17:17).  Sometime people are just plain wrong.  But you will never have a chance to help them see the light if your mindset is one of winning the debate.

 Peace begins with you.  You are divinely empowered to be a peace maker.  Don’t fall into the trap of tribalism.  Don’t give into to blindly adopting the narrative of your tribe.  The key to doing so is in your individualism, the power you have to think for yourself.  Don’t see others as the enemy, see them as fellow human beings, who from their perspective, are trying to solve a grievance.  A solution to every conflict begins with you listening.  See the problem from their perspective.  Brainstorm solutions.  You want to collaborate together not work against each other. Give peace a chance.

 If peace is going to have a chance, it begins in you and flows out of you.


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