Today, inspired by U2’s lyric “There is no them; there is only us,” Deanne reminds us of the line that made the cartoon Pogo famous: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
It does bring another twist to this thinking, which I think is so important primarily because it is not what we naturally think (which means it must be true!). If there is only us, then “us” becomes all-encompassing. The enemy is us, the sinner is us, the invalid is us, the mentally ill is us, the hungry is us, the poor is us, the rich is us, the criminal is us, the famous is us, the successful is us, the homosexual is us, the transgender is us, the terrorist is us, the soldier is us, the priest is us … I could finish out this Catch with more types and descriptions, but I am sure you get the point now.
This is why Jesus made it clear to not judge anyone, because when you judge someone you are judging yourself. That would make sense since they are us. There is no them. In this context, “them” is a judgment, and the reason we can’t judge is that there isn’t anything that sets us apart from anyone else.
That’s why we embrace everyone. Forgive everyone. Have mercy on everyone. Do you want any part of this for yourself? Then you must give all of it to everyone. What? You get forgiven and the next guy doesn’t? How is that possible? It’s not.
If everyone is us, then I need to love everyone, extend God’s grace to everyone, and see everyone as equally valuable in God’s eyes. Is your sin not so bad that God would forgive you and not someone else with a worse sin than you? How absurd is that? Is there a sin gauge? Everyone below the “really bad sin” line is forgiven, but above that … forget it?
This is where I believe God would have us innocent to other people’s errors — so grateful for our own mercy that we can’t possibly even think of not extending that same mercy to everyone else, no questions asked.
This is what Paul means when he writes over and over again, “Grace and mercy to you.” No discrimination. Everybody gets it.
Lately I‘ve been working four days a week in a local library. Once a week, at least a half a dozen young men come in and take over the computers. They all have dark pants, white shirts and black ties and they all have a permanent name tag that say “Missionary Elder, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” If there’s anyone I have a tendency to judge, it’s these guys. “Why don’t they get their own computers? Doesn’t the church have enough money for that?” But in doing so, I am judging myself. I’m pitting my self-righteousness against theirs and saying mine isn’t as bad. But what’s to say they aren’t self-righteous at all — just a bunch of really good kids trying to do the right thing. Hats off to them. May they find the grace of Jesus. If we were going to compare virtue for virtue (and we are not, because it is useless) they are probably more virtuous than me, anyway, so I don’t even want to go there. I want to extend them mercy as God has done for me.
See what happened here? I met the Mormons and the Mormons are us.