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The Origin of Tribalism


We have all been there - the unexpected sense of superiority when dealing with someone from a different class or culture. How can they think like that? Why are they doing everything differently?

Deep down none of us wants any part in the issues of tribalism or even racism, but we have all been in situations where we are forced to admit that we have struggles with pride.

The term “tribalism" refers to a group attitude of undeserved pride and superiority based solely on identification with a group. It is the tendency to look down on other people for no other reason than they don’t belong to the group. You see it in sports, culture, nations and religions. You see it in class, gender wars, and racial discrimination. We can easily dismiss tribalism as part of our fallen human nature. Everyone seems prone to it. We look for a group to belong to for no other reason than a feeling of security and superiority. If we don’t find one we start one.

Is there anything in the Bible that could help us understand the deeper workings of this phenomena? You bet. We have to go back all the way to the beginning of mankind.

After creation, God dealt with man as one group speaking one language all the way to Noah’s Ark and beyond to Genesis chapter 11. Once again, man had the audacity to exalt himself to the level of God by building a city and a tower to prove that. God had no choice but to step in, unless he chose to destroy mankind once and for all. But that was not going to happen. Because of their unity and determination they would be able to achieve any evil they set out to commit, and God had to put an end to it. When he decided to confuse their language and scatter them throughout the earth it was an act of judgement, but more than that. Actually, it was an act of mercy and strategy.

They had resisted God as a whole, so God would win them in pieces, family by family, clan by clan, nation by nation. God divides mankind into nations, and chooses one nation to bless all others. This was the first step in launching his ministry of reconciliation, the Missio Dei, initiated by Jesus and passed on us, his Church.

"But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation, that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him." 2 Corinthians 5:18

This is the reason why there is a kingdom, a Bible, and the Church. It is also the reason why we are alive today. One day “us” and “them” will become “we”, as we stand before his throne as one and worship the Lamb.

#tribalism #racism #prejudice #Babel

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