Reading time: two minutes. When I read the following, I thought to myself, “Well, that explains a lot!” Barna Trends 2018 describes the rise of Tribalism in our changing society like this: “In a society based on individual self-interest, the community people seek out is one that looks and believes as they do.” The problem here is that people aren’t interested in truth, just in clustering together with others who are like-minded. It’s why our society is becoming ever more divided, and it may have something to say about division in the church, in the body of Christ. The next thought from Barna points out the real danger with this rise of Tribalism. “Every group that isn’t your own becomes a threat,” says Barna. The implications are pretty scary. The divisive hostility we’re seeing between diverse groups, according to this estimate, will only escalate. At it’s core, the gospel is relational. Since Adam and Eve ran and hid, God has been seeking us, drawing us back to Himself. Paul told the Ephesians that God’s will, hidden for ages, but now revealed in Christ, is to “bring all things together” (1:10), and that “the dividing wall of hostility” (2:14) has been brought down. The beauty of what God has done in Christ is the perfect unity we now have with God our Father and with one another, our sisters and brothers. The divisive spirit of our age will make things harder for professional church workers. Now that e pluribus Unum is an American motto devoid of meaning, those in the business of creating a fellowship of unity will face an uphill struggle. It has always been a struggle to keep peace in congregational life. It’s going to get harder. It’s baptism time for the Church. The washing of new birth is the great unifier, as it always has been. Baptized into Christ, we lose our old sinful nature with its “individual self interest” and the perceived threats from those different than ourselves. We lose all of our differences at the foot of the cross as we remember our common desperate struggle against sin. Human nature divides. God in Christ unifies. The world is crumbling apart. That’s an opportunity for us to bear witness to the love of Jesus for each of us. The growing Tribalism of our day will be the darkness into which the Light of Christian fellowship will shine. What an opportunity for Law/Gospel proclamation! And they’ll know we are His disciples by the way we love one another. God bless the unity of peace and love in the fellowship of faith you serve! Thanks for reading. Subscribe to Blog Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.