As you are aware, we have a terrible problem in our country right now. We are so divided. We are so angry. It is stressing us all out! I think at the root of the problem is what sociologists call tribalism. Tribalism is when we over identify with a group of people, our tribe. We identify with them to the point that it becomes unhealthy. Let me give you an example from sports. Our favorite team is our tribe. Have you ever noticed that when an official throws a flag on the home team the stands erupt with boos and calling the ref all kinds of names? Most of the time the official is right. He made the right call. But he made it against our team, so we insult the ref. We aren’t interested in having a fair game, truthful officiating. We just want our team to win. Who cares about the truth or about right or wrong?
It’s one thing when sports fans fall into the trap of tribalism. But there are other, far more serious arenas. We can divide ourselves into different tribes over politics, race, religion, anything really. Take politics for example. Both sides have a narrative of what our tribe is like and a narrative about what the other tribe is like. Of course, our tribe is the good tribe doing what is true and just and good. The other tribe is just bent on evil and destruction. Instead of seeking the truth, we look for anything that supports our narrative, whether it is true or not. So, we stop looking for truth. Truth doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is what fits into our narrative of our tribe or their tribe. If it fits the narrative, we don’t even ask if it’s true. We just tell it as if it were true. Is this sounding familiar?
The problem is when the other tribe speaks the truth or has a good idea, we can’t hear it, because we have convinced ourselves that they can’t say anything true or good. The even more dangerous side of this is that we are convinced that no matter what our tribe does, it is true and right. We no longer ask, “Is this true? Should our tribe do this?” We just assume that since our tribe is doing something it is true and right. Have you ever wondered how so many decent people in Germany gave Hitler the power to do the evil things he did? Tribalism. He was a part of their political and religious tribe and instead of questioning whether what he was doing was right, they just assumed it must be right because it was their tribe doing it. So, it must be right. Sociologists call it tribalism. Theologians call it idolatry.
I believe that as Christians we should be truthful on Facebook and Twitter and all other social media. I regularly see posts from well-meaning people on their Facebook page that are simply untrue. Especially when it comes to politics. The posts follow the tribal narrative, but they are not true.
It’s tribalism again. Both sides have a narrative of what the other side is like. And anything that fits that narrative, true or not, gets passed around as truth. It just further divides us. I’m afraid more people get their information from Facebook than they do actual news sources. So, can those of us who claim to be a part of God’s family at least make sure things are true before we pass them on?
Tribalism is taking over I am afraid. Truth no longer seems to matter, not even for people who claim to follow the One who said, “I am the truth.” What if we quit letting our tribe tell us what’s true and looked to God to find the truth? I think it would make a huge difference in our culture. I think our culture desperately needs us to do that. To seek the truth. To actually be salt and light instead of just going along with whatever our tribe does. The time has come to be salt and light to our own tribes. Christian brothers and sisters will you please put the pursuit of truth above your tribal narratives? Please put the truth above your political party, your culture, your religious beliefs. What if we all desired truth more than our tribal narratives? I think it would make a difference.
People outside the church have stopped looking to the church for guidance. It isn’t because of liberalism or the debate over sexuality. It is because they no longer believe us. We have parroted our religious and political tribalism for so long they no longer believe we will tell them the truth. God help us if we can’t find our way back to the truth.