“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30 (NKJV)
We are living in a time where it seems everyone must take a side. Some people are calling this, “The Age of Us Against Them”. And if you’ve spent any time outside of the four walls of your own home, you’ve probably experienced this phenomenon on a personal level. Someone is always to blame, it’s never two-sided, and motives are always being questioned.
This mentality has also infiltrated people in the church over the years. Paul warns against it in Galatians 5:15 when he said, “…if you keep biting and devouring one another, watch out or else you’ll be consumed by one another.” And that fully embraces what Jesus meant when he addressed the Pharisees in Matthew 12. Jesus brought a new command – “to love your neighbor as yourself…” Paul mimics this in Galatians 5:14 – yes, the verse right before Galatians 5:15 – “The entire law is fulfilled in this single decree: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” THE ENTIRE LAW IS FULFILLED – So, no more need for legalism, Pharisees. Get your motivation in check.
Jesus wasn’t condoning a “for us or against us” mentality when he was addressing the Pharisees. He was addressing a the desire to keep rules, laws, traditions, regulations, “me first” thinking, and legalism instead of embracing His message of Grace. Jesus wasn’t worried about being the one to win an argument with the Pharisees. Jesus wasn’t trying to defend Himself. Jesus was gathering the masses toward the Way, the Truth, and the Light. The Pharisees would have rather seen people continue living in a way that kept them bound to a law that would not save them from the clutches of the enemy. They were not concerned about people being set free and being given the opportunity to embrace the powerful and active Holy Spirit. They were more concerned about being right. They wanted to continue perpetuating the narrative of legalism. Their motives were threatened by Jesus and the message He was bringing to the masses; you have to be born again and there is no way to do that but through Jesus Christ Himself – “No man comes to the Father except through me.” This revelation message to humanity drove the Pharisees bonkers. When Jesus proclaimed there was no more need for the law what the Pharisees heard was, “there is no more need for you, Pharisee.”
When people feel their motives are being threatened in any way, it is prime opportunity for much assumption and offense to take place. We see in the relationship Jesus had with Nicodemus the Pharisee that He was willing that none would perish – even the Pharisees – if they would only be receptive to the message He was bringing. It was in the beautiful interchange between Nicodemus and Jesus that we were given the most famous verse of the bible – John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever should believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus would go on to say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” This message was one that would in some ways, put the Pharisees out of a job. This message threatened the existence of Pharisaical mentality. Jesus came not to condemn but to save the lost; the Pharisees believed their existence was to condemn the sins of others. Because of Jesus and His message of a life by the Spirit, the Pharisees could not co-exist within the confines of Jesus’ message and continue to believe the way they believed. This meant their own message was replaced with a new message. This meant they were, well, wrong.
As believers, our only agenda should always be Christ first. If there is any other agenda in our hearts, it is time to cut that up into tiny pieces and offer it up as a sacrifice of praise. The agenda and motive of the Pharisee did not have the heart of Jesus and His love for other attached to it in any way. These were men who studied God’s Words and His Law, yet their actions did not line up with those truths. Jesus made every effort to call out this behavior and stir the waters in order to bring attention to their hypocrisy because it hurt the people He loved, and it had the potential to distract people from embracing their true love.
An, “us against them,” attitude in Christian circles is nothing shy of what Jesus dealt with from the Pharisee. Always looking to point out the faults in others, always investigating motives & agendas (Matthew 7:1-2), or painting narratives to make ourselves look better is not Christ-centric (it isn’t putting Jesus at the center). It is a lifestyle based in fear and control and has no place among us.
It’s easy to know if your motive is Christ-centric, or if it is YOU-centric:
If you are consistently more concerned about being right than for the hearts of others: YOU-centric.
If you are not loving and addressing people the way you would like to be addressed and loved: YOU-centric.
If every conflict leads to you hurrying to write the narrative of the situation to others: YOU-centric.
If you are more concerned about your motive than celebrating what God is doing in others: YOU-centric
A Christ-centric life looks something like this:
If you are consistently concerned about giving others the benefit of the doubt: Christ-centric.
If you are loving and speaking to others the way you would liked to be loved and spoken to: Christ-centric.
If your conflicts lead to you allowing others space to share their hearts with each other: Christ-centric.
If you are celebrating what God is doing in others knowing He is the motive: Christ-centric.
You see, Jesus had His own motive, He said it loud and clear in Luke 19:10, “…the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” If our motive and agendas are not simply to seek and to save those who need the message of Jesus, we are living from our own reserve and that will ultimately lead to a place where you live with the “us against them” motive.
I encourage you today to get with Jesus and ask Him to reveal the motives of your heart to you. He is faithful to complete that work in you. Plus, the Bible says that no one knows the motives of a man’s heart other than the Lord, so it’s safe to say that Jesus is willing to get you on the right track with your motives if you’d just let Him.
Be Blessed, and share in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!