What is it about a common enemy that can make two groups who are normally hateful to each other and intolerant of even their presence come together in unity? I was curious so I Googled "Common Enemy Theory." I just wrote out what I thought a psychologist would call it. Did you know that it is a real thing and that research has been done examining the bond that occurs between people bonding over a mutual dislike. Maybe this is why people like to gather and gossip rather than sit and talk about the good in others? According to Psychology Today (Dec. 17, 2018) people will bond more over a common dislike than a common like. This type of group think makes us feel better about ourselves. It gives us a mental boost about our own poor motives in the moment. Oh boy. Think on that the next time you bond over a common enemy. Is that the type of unity I want to build a relationship upon?
This type of behavior has been around for a long time. Some 2,000 years ago, the religious leaders who normally would not get along worked together to entrap Jesus. They allowed their mutual bond of viewing Jesus as a threat to their religious order to cause them to plot to kill an innocent man. They made their common enemy the One that was known as the Messiah. The one their very own prophets taught about. Blinded by their personal wants and desires, they behaved contrary to their calling and plotted against the One that came to save them. They settled for the glory of human power, authority, and institution rather than GOD'S glory, power, and authority. Their enemy bond caused them to miss out on the immeasurably more of Jesus.
Watch the video here:Easter Week Tuesday: Religious Leaders Question Jesus
Easter is a time when we gather together to remember the sacrifice that was given so that we might have eternal life. As our world becomes more and more polarized, how can we find ways to build common bonds that are healthy and not destructive of each other? I know I struggle to fight enemy bonding. The one thing that seems to put reason back into my sensibilities is to remember that each person is created in the image of God. They may not act like it, but I can try to honor that they are an image bearer. I confess, I fail often in my lack of remembrance, but when I get it right I know I am better for it and so is the one I am remembering. And if I am in a conversation with another, they are better for it, too. What might you do this week to guard against enemy bonding? How can you seek to bond over healthier things?