The Myth of Us vs. Them (Part 1)

Battle

For Us or Against Us?

Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23, ESV). But then he also said that “the one who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50, ESV). So it seems pretty clear, right? People are either for us or against us.

We must of course remember that these statements were made in the context of sharing the good news and performing signs in Jesus’ name. Either a person is aiding in the spread of the gospel, or that person is hindering it. If the latter, does this make that person our enemy?

Enemies?

When interacting with those who reject the good news of Christ Jesus, it is easy to think of them as the enemy—at least until they convert. But this should not be the case at all. Yes, we are in the midst of battle. Yes, we do have an enemy, but that enemy is not people.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12, NET)

As Christians, we ought not consider humans to be our enemies, even though they may consider us their enemies. Rather, we are to love, bless, pray for, and do good to them (Luke 6:27–28). They are victims. They are held hostage by their sin, and it is our desire to see them delivered, not destroyed.

It is especially easy for those of us engaged in apologetics to think we are trying to win a battle by defeating the arguments of our opponent. We can win that battle—we can line up the evidence and demolish their theses—but still lose their hearts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for presenting evidence, but our goal must be to convey truth, not to win debates.

[Part 2 of this series has now been posted. Read about the myth of believers vs. other believers.]

What Do You Think?

Are nonbelievers our enemies? When you discourse with nonbelievers, does it usually turn into a debate? What do you think we can do to avoid that? Please share with us in the comments below.