Given the choice, people tend to associate with others like themselves. Collective Identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group which establishes the rules, social mores, and doctrines to which members adhere. Leaders receive the power to define membership and guide group members. The primary reason for conflict is groups with incompatible values.
Every group competes with every other group. Without a major commonality or unifier, disparate groups cannot live together in harmony and peace because real (or perceived) differences eventually lead to conflict.
The Enemy Among Us
Decades ago, friends from Illinois visited my husband and me in Omaha, arriving with six precious football tickets. Formerly a resident of Minnesota and Michigan, where major-league football is the norm and no university without an instate rival, the attention Nebraskans lavish on one college football program struck me as oddly excessive.
On late summer and autumn Saturdays, the University of Nebraska warm-up and play-by-play is broadcast in grocery stores and shopping malls, which is why I paid any attention at all.
To provide context, this was in the mid-1980s with coaching provided by the legendary Tom Osborne. Victory was the norm.
You couldn’t escape fans who bled and breathed Red. Adding injury to curiosity, the fans were often ugly to those who didn’t share their passion.
I was teased, lectured, even ostracized, for not being a rabid fan of the erstwhile Bugeaters (the original team name), which didn’t warm my heart one degree toward Big Red.
Hatred for Those Visibly Different
That Saturday, six of us went to the Illinois-Nebraska game on the Cornhusker’s home field. Mr. Baber’s business colleague and proud graduate of Illinois, brought gorgeous team jerseys for both of us. I wore mine to the game.
Our group was evenly divided; three in red and three in white with orange and blue accents.
Four of the six tickets were in the Illinois section and two in the higher elevations of Nebraska’s bleachers. My husband and I spent the first half of the game with Illinois fans and the second half with the folks in red.
“You’re Not Welcome Here”
During the second half, my enemy colors infuriated the lady sitting directly in front of me. Dressed in a red sweater, red poodle skirt, red beret, red boots, and red earrings with red lipstick smeared all over her front teeth (true), she spit her gall at me, “You shouldn’t have a ticket to this game!”
I suspect she was warmer toward the visiting fans who stayed where they belonged. Pity the fool who dared to wear the offensive colors to her territory!
If college football people are that exclusive, why should God be less so?
The Common Enemy
Western culture today considers one group a common enemy to most others; those whose primary allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ. How dare we bring enemy insignia or ideology into their territory.
In God’s opinion a lie is a lie is a lie. It doesn’t matter who told the lie or why, because the rule is the rule. Is it so difficult to understand why God insists that members of His family adopt His rules, social mores, doctrines, and leadership? Team loyalty and tribalism is not an unfamiliar concept.
You Must Choose Sides
The history of mankind is fraught with irreconcilable conflict and competition of every type and description. Ultimately, everyone joins one of two exclusive camps: the one ordered by God and the other one.
God’s “team” has no colors, territory, ethnicity, gender, or anthem. His “players” love each other and pray for those who hate them. Anyone truly representing Jesus Christ will never behave as the Nebraska lady in red.
God does not change. He is ever honest, faithful, and the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” –Joshua 24:15
“Undecided” isn’t an option
If you’re not sure you want to commit to God’s camp, you’re already in the other one. Read why here: The Devil Owns the Fence
Another related post: Playing Chicken With God–Presumption and Repentance