The We/They Mentality

  • Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC
  • Series: December 2014 Volume 21, Issue 5
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The We/They Mentality

By Brenda Spina, M.S., LMFT, LPC

Evangelism is one of those things that is not naturally comfortable for me. Going door to door once as a teenager, my comfort level grew a little as I interacted with strangers. The memory imprinted on me is when the young woman I was with offered to help a woman with her groceries. The woman invited her in and they spoke of God’s salvation. I do not remember if the woman accepted Jesus, however, she did express a renewal of hope. This event revealed how I thought of those who seemingly did not believe the way I did. My uncomfortable feelings were quite selfish. My predetermined mindset was based on looks as to how a person may respond or if they were “worth” hearing about the love of God.

This was a we/they mentality. This mentality can be difficult to discern. Now, hopefully older and wiser, I believe we all tend to do this. That is, see our way as better, our church as the “right” church, our behavior as more godly than those around us, elevate our own thinking above another, see those less fortunate in life as somehow less than us, and being on the “in” crowd as a sign of greater spirituality.

This mentality is destructive. Although perhaps temporarily necessary in something like sports, the we/they mentality undermines the inclusive nature of God’s grace and mercy. He died on the cross extending His grace and mercy to all if they but receive it. Even though we may not understand, all peoples are created by and loved equally before the Lord. This truth is a much needed mindset for families and churches to function loving manner.

Paul in his discourse to the Jews in Acts 13 states, “Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” (NIV) The Jews in leadership nurtured the we/they mentality to the point in which they became prideful, arrogant, and unwilling to be corrected or taught. When anyone entertains the we/they type of mentality (unknowingly at times), those around them feel shamed, humiliated and like they do not belong. No wonder people dislike Christians who think this way.
Are there ways to avoid this mentality: A testimony of God’s love having eternal consequence for the hearer? Yes! Here are some things to consider as you come before the Lord:

  • Do you respond with curiosity to those who think differently than you about God?
  • Are you willing to discover how they came to those assumptions?
  • How might your compassion and respect pave the way for the person opposite you to experience God’s love?
  • If God asks you to help someone in some practical way, would you do it?

Responding with curiosity, compassion and respect does not mean you agree. It means
you respect their experience. Seeing people as created by and loved equally by God is one way to reveal the heart of God. You can still speak the truth of His salvation. God’s grace, mercy and salvation is for ALL. Not just those we deem worthy to receive it.