Images from yesterday’s events at the capitol building of our country broke my heart. I physically felt my shoulders fall and myself exhale from disbelief and heaviness. Frustration, embarrassment, and even judgement of condemnation is what I experienced within the first 15 minutes. Yes…I am keeping it real with you. My initial response was to cast stones.
Through the evening I saw the plethora amount of social media posts from all points of views. From both sides of the aisle. I felt a response was needed, but I didn’t know how to respond. Several times I had to stop the urge to share some posts that I personally and emotionally was agreeing with. But, refrained from doing so. After sleeping on it and praying about it, I believe the response you are reading to what happened yesterday is one that I needed to hear as well as us, as the church.
First, let me share with you the reasoning of why a response was not created initially. There was a realization this morning that my starting point of wanting to respond was looking at me in the mirror. Here are the first thoughts I had:
“I need to respond to this and speak into this. It’s important I don’t stay silent.”
“How should I respond to this?”
“What should I say?”
“Should I post it on our Facebook page, or the website?”
“Should I change what I’m going to preach about on Sunday and speak into this situation?”
My sisters and brothers, do you see the initial problem with these thoughts?
Yep, if you said I…I…I…I…then you would have hit the bullseye of the bullseye! The problem to my thought of needing to respond was the starting point of myself! Recognizing this it became clear on how to respond to yesterday’s situation. I didn’t start with Jesus.
Switching our thoughts on how to respond to things in the world and in situations like this, we must start with Jesus.
“What is Jesus’ response to this?”
Does that reframe your thought? Yeah, me too.
As we look into scripture and how Jesus responded to similar events, we can’t help but recognize that his response is not a popular one. His response can be summed up in 2 words. One another. Depending on which translation you read, you will be able to find the term approximately 100 times in the New Testament. These are direct how to and how to not treat one another directives from Jesus and the Apostles. 47 of those verses give instructions to followers of Jesus. Paul wrote about 60% of those one another commands. Through a quick search I was able to find a simple breakdown of these one another statements and some of the common themes between them.
One third of the “one another” commands deal with the unity of the church.
- Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
- Don’t grumble among one another (Jn 6:43)
- Be of the same mind with one another (Ro 12:16, 15:5)
- Accept one another (Ro 15:7)
- Wait for one another before beginning the Eucharist (1 Co 11:33)
- Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another—seriously, guys, don’t eat each other (Ga 5:15)
- Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another (Ga 5:26).
- Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ep 4:2)
- Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ep 4:32)
- Bear with and forgive one another (Co 3:13)
- Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Th 5:15)
- Don’t complain against one another (Jas 4:11, 5:9)
- Confess sins to one another (Jas 5:16)
One third of them instruct Christians to love one another.
- Love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 17; Ro 13:8; 1 Th 3:12, 4:9; 1 Pe 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11, 4:7, 11; 2 Jn 5)
- Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13)
- Tolerate one another in love (Ep 4:2)
- Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Pe 5:14)
- Be devoted to one another in love (Ro 12:10)
About 15% stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers.
- Give preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10)
- Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Php 2:3)
- Serve one another (Ga 5:13)
- Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14)
- Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind (Ro 12:16)
- Be subject to one another (Ep 5:21)
- Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Pe 5:5)
Of course, Jesus and the apostles give many more instructions to the church; these “one another” passages are a good start, though.
Also: make sure you read these in context! These commands come from Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and James, and they’re scattered across the New Testament. Don’t just stop at this list: dig into these passages to see what the author was talking about.
What we witnessed at the capital and what we continue to witness in our political world and issues in our world is the human condition of selfishness. It’s a disease that every single one of us have and are constantly fighting with. Did you catch that? Our selfishness is the weapon we use against others. We get upset and mad because the “I” has been affected. We use harsh words and cut others down who we disagree with because the “I” in us was hurt.
Just stop for a moment and think about why you may disagree with the other side. I would venture to say that you will find that it is because their decisions are affecting you.
There is only one cure. There is only one physician that has the cure against that human condition of selfishness. That physician is Jesus. Period.
As followers of Jesus, we must not get sucked into the religion of politics and be consumed by the self-centered and self-serving world we live in. Does this mean we ignore what is going on in the world? To ignore the politics going on in our country? By no means! However, if we want to see real change for the better of our world then each of us must lay down our lives for one another. Not just for those we agree with but for ALL people. Why? Simply put, because Jesus values and loves ALL people.
Do you want unity? Do you want peace? Do you want to see our world become more like the Kingdom of God? Then go BE the child of God you are and practice the one another commands above. Go live a life so radically different that others can’t help but question why you have such love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) in the midst of a broken and hurting world.
I believe it is fitting to leave you with the words of Jesus about one another.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
Grace and peace,
One practice you could put into place when about to respond or make decisions is filter it through our Core Values. I have found myself using our Core Values in my personal life. You can find them here.