1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed
Paul is sharing with us an important word on building and sustaining community. Our faith in Jesus leads us to community and not away from community. It’s never exclusively me and Jesus. It’s always we and Jesus. A sign of strong faith is being able and willing to bear with the failings of the people who are more readily swayed by the world’s influence. Resistance and isolation isn’t the answer. Engagement is. Presence is. Strong faith builds others up. Strong faith accepts others so that, with one voice, we may glorify God together and grow ever more towards the likeness of Christ. Strong faith is needed to build community and hold it together.
We don’t live to please ourselves. We live to glorify God and serve others. We shouldn’t be quickly triggered by insults and ignorance because they aren’t ours to carry. Our cares and our burdens are ultimately Christ’s to carry. Yet, we’re reminded daily how much our media coverage and our own participation online through social media has created a cesspool where community is threatened instead of fostered. This is one reason why embodied gathering is essential for community to exist. When we see each other, our hearts, our expressions and concerns, we are more readily empathetic and understanding. When we share common space, common ground forms even when we continue to disagree because it is the attitude of Christ we bring in each other’s presence. We’re able to have the attitude of Christ because he came to us and showed us in his presence. He didn’t stay in heaven and impute it to us. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8).
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…” How does this verse affect how you deal with ignorance or disagreement? How might your responses to people change as you ask God to give you a new attitude? What was Jesus’ response to those who tried to challenge him? Has your role in building the community of faith called First Methodist Church changed since the pandemic began?
Holy Father, may our lives magnify your name. In our coming and going, in our waking and sleeping, in our weeping and rejoicing, we praise your holy name. God, make us instruments of your peace who are not easily moved by distractions. Equip us to build one another up in love. Increase our endurance to weather the blows from the enemy and the boasting of the wicked. Let your love reign in our hearts. Lead us down the path of righteousness. May we never turn our eyes away from those in need. Strengthen and grow your church Lord. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.