The Problem of They

Ok, friends, I’m going a bit grammarian on you here for a minute. I don’t like how people have been using third person plural pronouns.

Them. Their. They.

“We have to stand against them or they’ll take away our right to bear arms.”

“They care more about their guns than about our children.”

“They are killing babies.”

“They want to take away our right to choose.”

They are coming into our country illegally.”

They don’t care about people who are suffering”

Every time I check Facebook I feel like I need to duck and cover because of all the memes flying back and forth like arrows across the political aisle. Complex issues that should be a conversation have been reduced to an angry exchange of one line jabs. And the faces behind the issues have been reduced to a nameless sea of they.

Yes, I have thoughts on these important issues. I think the Bible teaches pretty clearly on most of the things our society is wrestling through. But I think we tend to launch straight into areas where we disagree with the way things are going and skip over one of the most basic things the Bible teaches.

God made people. All of us. And He loves us enough that He sent His Son, not so we could win and argument, but for our redemption.

Friends, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions before we speak our minds… Have I ever sat down with someone on the other side of this issue and really listened without interrupting or contradicting? Have I allowed myself to be moved by the stories and feelings of people who believe differently than I do? Have I looked in the eyes of people I disagree with and seen their immense value to the God who loves them? Do I even know anyone who has a different viewpoint well enough to have a real conversation with them about this issue…? If not, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re using more energy on being right than on loving people.

No matter how right our convictions may be, if our starting point is anything less than compassion we will do more harm than good. No matter how Biblically based or well thought out our arguments are, if our goal is to shame or silence the opposition we are completely missing the point.

One day an expert in the religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

The man answered, “’You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

(Luke 10:25-29 NLT)

Jesus didn’t soothe the man’s conscience by saying that his neighbors were his fellow Jews, people who believed and dressed and acted and talked like he did. Instead Jesus told a story where the hero, the neighbor, was one of the Samaritans, a despised group who disagreed with the Jew on big issues like worship and morality.

Jesus took a nameless sea of they and gave them a face and a story. He gave identity and dignity to people on the other side of the aisle, not minimizing their differences, but challenging the Jews to see them and love them.

By all means, we should speak the truth with conviction. We should vote and write our government representatives. We need to stand up for what we believe. But first…

Let’s look. Look our opponents in the eye and see their personhood and worth.

Listen humbly to their hearts, even if we don’t understand or agree.

Pause – please, please, please – and think about whether clicking share on that meme or article will invite people into thoughtful, respectful conversation or simply make them roll their eyes.

And pray. Friends, we need to pray for hearts that look so much like Jesus that compassion comes as naturally as breathing.

He sees them. So should we.


1 Comment

  1. Marth
    Feb 28, 2018

    Beth, have been studying the parables in Sunday School, so glad to see this put in the context of all of the issues of today.. Love from Michael’s Aunt Martha

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *