Us And Them
This week, I heard one of my favorite radio hosts describe Donald Trump as the candidate “for the angry and small-minded.” Funny thing is, I would have counted this particular host among the angry and small-minded himself. And there’s a good chance that some of you reading this classify me the same way! Here’s the thing: we are all angry and small-minded. Those of us who deny that classification only confirm it with a third epithet — prideful!
But humility, too, can be a point of pride. As soon as I smirk at someone else’s pride for not counting himself among the angry-and-small-minded, I classify myself among those-who-understand-that-we-are-all-angry-and-small-minded, over and above those-who-don’t-understand-that-we-are-all-angry-and-small-minded.
U2 famously sings “there is no them; there is only us” but in doing so, they immediately create a “them” in the form of those-who-don’t-understand-that-there-is-no-them.
If this is all too confusing, consider Jesus’ words in Luke 7:28. After the disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus to gauge his messianic credentials, Jesus says to the gathered crowd,
"I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Try to sort through that sentence. Is Jesus saying that John is the greatest or the least? Are we to understand that John is greater than Jesus? Or less than Jesus because he is greater than all those born or women and therefore least of all? Is Jesus saying anything intelligible at all?
I think Jesus is actually calling us to reject the whole idea of greatest and least. Jesus is saying, “You are Abba’s child. That is enough. You don’t need any rank but that.” He is saying, “Forget your pecking orders and remember the goodness of God.” And he says that to all of us — apostles and pastors, radio hosts and Donald Trump.