Psychologists call it groupthink-a phenomenon that happens when people in a particular group are so overly concerned with harmony that they won’t listen to alternative ideas, and their desire to minimize conflict overrides their ability to think outside the box.
Bigotry runs in a similar vein. Bigots are undyingly devoted to their opinions and prejudices and aren’t open to challenges. We often associate bigotry with racism but it can also extend to gender, political issues, church affiliation, age, economic status, language or nationality.
One of Jesus’ disciples may have struggled with one or both mentalities. “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38). John appeared to have an “us and them” religious mentality. You were either in Jesus’ group or you weren’t. But Jesus reminded him the team was larger than 12 disciples. Anyone not on an opposing team was on theirs by default.
History records periods when Protestants detested Catholics and Catholics returned the favor, when Jews were hated so fiercely they were almost exterminated, when slaves and free blacks were forced to sit in the balconies of white churches and when Protestant groups divided among themselves over issues they couldn’t agree on.
Jesus isn’t proposing unity at all costs; some things are worth standing for and dividing over. He’s merely reminding us we accomplish more together than apart. Groupthink and bigotry divides and prevents the measure of success we could otherwise enjoy. What attitudes keep you focused on the little things and prevent you from working on the big picture with all believers?
Prayer: God of all creation, unify us in love for each other so our work for You can reach its greatest potential.