The ‘us and them’ mindset is pervasive and requires one to choose their own tribe or family over all others. In the example of his own family, Jesus demonstrated that His family was not just the biological relatives. The Father in Heaven is aggressively adopting all who will enter His House.

The ‘Us and them’ philosophy teaches us that our church is better than the others. ‘We good – they bad.’

The mindset is applicable to race, culture, socio-economic status, religion, political ideology, sport teams and choice of consumer goods.

What does God think of our tribalism? He creates tribes, but not as an end in themselves. His chosen nation was called to be a blessing to the whole earth.  Everyone is in line to be saved and reconciled to God. If we focus on that potential, we are able to see all people as God sees them. While many will reject their invitation to belong, it does not change the heart of God to adopt, benefit and restore.

In the end, God will take ‘no’ for an answer and also is able to reject and expel the ones who do not belong in His family. Love always makes room for the risk of rejection.

In God’s nation of nomadic earth wanderers, there is a hospitality and shared life to embrace. The ancient clans of God’s Holy Nation give us a model to follow in our families, our churches and our communities.

Jeff Benner describes the clan life in this way:

The men would often gather together, usually at meal times, to discuss past events, needs, locations and other details of operating the camp. The women gathered together to prepare foods, make clothing and make tent repairs. Storytelling was probably one of the most important forms of entertainment. The older members of the clan would tell the stories of their history to the children in order to pass on the experiences of the tribe and clans to the next generation.
One of the major responsibilities of the clan is to provide hospitality to anyone who comes to them. This may be a member of a related clan or even an enemy of another tribe. In both cases it was the responsibility of the clan to provide food, shelter and protection as long as they were within their camp.[i]

Everyone finds his or her place in God’s community. There are different generations, genders and jobs to do. Everyone is valued and shares in welcoming those from outside who need to be cared for.

If Jesus were going to preach the Kingdom of God’s inclusion, He must first provoke the tribe. The ministry of Jesus began clearly with a focus on His people. His own people rejected Him and the idea of a worldwide tribe that would welcome sinners and ‘the others’.

[i] Jeff A. Benner, The Nomadic Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews.