JKPC

Community in Action February 27, 2021

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

not looking to your own interests

but each of you to the interests

of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4a

    Going back to looking at the top ten scriptures I strive to follow, this is the last of the ten. It is one of the most difficult. It goes along with Jesus telling us in Mark 8:34b, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

    This is not the usual motto we hear in this country, especially among our leaders, be they public servants, social activists, or religious leaders, including myself. It is difficult not to make sure your own needs are met first especially when you see others feathering their own nest most of the time. And besides does Jesus really call us to make sacrifices which may threaten our own well being?

    How do we balance or live in the tension between meeting our own needs or the needs of our family versus the needs of those around us? This is all the more reason for us to cultivate the Spirit. We aren’t saviors of the world. We can’t continue to give or empty ourselves without filling our receptacle back up, but we can do something.

    Self-care is an important need, I would even call it a discipline, so we can be more effective, better stewards of what we have been given, better images of God, Genesis 1:26a, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness.”

    In previous writings I have already mentioned the times which Jesus took to be alone, or at least not be distracted from communing with the presence of God. It is so much easier to listen to God without others around us.

    Yet, Jesus always came back to be with his disciples and to be engaged with the crowds. Jesus spent more time teaching and healing others as he spent nourishing himself. So a follower of Jesus does not just serve others, but allows God to fill him or her up in order to serve others.

    But, I think in our country we have lost the neighborly connection in our communities, read the book Them by Ben Sasse. Sometimes we don’t make the connection because we don’t want to intrude upon another or we just don’t want to take the time to get to know our neighbor.

    We have lost the need for that cup of sugar we used to borrow from the family next  door, because we have the convenience of the corner store, or at least have the mobility to travel the short enough distance needed for filling that cup at the local store.

    So how do we recover our loss of connection with our neighbor. First, I think we need to take time to acknowledge them. If you see them outside take a moment to say hello. Just ask them how they are doing, and then listen to their answer. Pick up on the anniversary or birthday they are going to celebrate and the next time ask them how it went. If they express a concern about their job or the health of someone in their family or maybe their frustration with a current life situation, make a note and next time ask them if things have improved.

    Look for ways you can speak of something you have in common, be it dandelions in your lawn or the birds pooping on your car. Show an interest in their lives, and if a need is expressed ask yourself, is there something I can do to help them fill that need?

    I wish I could say I am an expert in making connections with other people, but even though publicly I am an extrovert, privately I am an introvert. I don’t want to intrude upon others space, but I can acknowledge their presence and chat for a few moments each time I see them.

    Let us all try to increase the bond between our neighbors and ourselves and perhaps we can grow in our concern for each other and not just look only to our own interests, but also the interests of others.

    Growing beyond my own borders with you,

    Pastor Randy

 
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