The word “they” has been used to distance people from each other ever since the first tribe went to war with a neighboring tribe. The problem with the word is the separation it creates between people. I have used the word in negative tones and so have you.
Here is what “they” sounds like:
“They are all the same.”
“They have no idea.”
“They are all crooks.”
“They are all ungodly.”
“They need to just go away.”
“They are the problem.”
And so on.
When Jesus stopped at a well in Samaria, he met a Samaritan woman. She was part of “they” according to Jewish tradition. Jews and Samaritans did not get along. They despised each other.
A Jew might say;
“They are Samaritan dogs.”
“They worship in a detestable way.”
“They have no place in our lives.”
“They need to be avoided.”
“They are unclean.”
And the Samaritans had similar slurs to sling back at the Jews.
Jesus stayed clear of defining any people group as “they.” His disciples were shocked that He crossed their imposed cultural divide when they returned to find Jesus at the well with the woman. Jesus lived his life and mission beyond the restrictions of “they” He was willing to take a drink from a water vessel that had the saliva of the Samaritan woman on its rim. That request for a drink turned “they” into “us.”
Jesus was on a mission from the Father that did not require Him to align His allegiance to any demeaning and dishonoring mindset or group no matter how heated the topic. That is also our mission. We have been sent to all people and that “all” includes every individual or group we might be tempted to define as “they.”
When we quote John 3:16 about God loving all the world, it is always good to include the next verse because its inclusion puts to death any thoughts of “they.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).