For the first time in YEARS, I’m not following a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program. Instead, I’m just seeking direction each day on what to read, what to study, where to look for my daily supply of spiritual food. It’s like coming off a diet where all your meals are preplanned and now, suddenly, you have to figure out what to eat for yourself.
So far in 2012, I’ve read through Galatians and Ephesians again in The Message (if you don’t have a copy of Eugene Peterson’s contemporary rendering of the Bible, hie thee to a bookstore at once!). This week I turned to Philippians and fell headlong into verses 1-4 of chapter 2…
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care– then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Now, just think about what you see on Facebook every day… How many of the “Christian” (including your own) posts are agreeable, loving, friendly and helpful?
No wonder so many folks avoid Facebook altogether. It’s often easier to be silent than to follow Paul’s directive.
But Paul’s words weren’t even designed for social media (although they fit). They were designed for LIFE–for living and interacting and responding to the people around us, from our children to our church family to our co-workers to our Facebook friends and Twitter followers. They were designed to give us the kind of life-giving, soul-fulfilling, lasting relationships that human beings need in order to be happy, successful, and satisfied.
Agreement requires us to stop trying to change the people around us. It demands that we accept and acknowledge without judgment, without manipulation, without control.
Love, though it sounds simple, is complex. True love casts out fear, obliterates condemnation, and offers unconditional acceptance.
Deep-spirited friendship? That’s the kind of communion, companionship, that goes beyond shared likes and common opinions, it’s a covenant between souls that extends beyond shared space, shared time, shared feelings, to the deepest hope and belief for the other’s greatest good. It’s rare, to say the least.
To these things we are called…