Unity Can Begin With Empathy
Unity. It is what we are called to. As a believer in Jesus Christ. I am fearful about this because, while I sincerely believe what God’s word says about unity, I do not believe that we, collectively as the body of Christ in the United States of America, see unity the way that the apostle Paul sees it as described in Ephesians 4.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3
Unity has a place. And it’s place is nestled so beautifully in this passage.
Our unity is forged through humbly, gently and patiently bearing with one another in love … with a sense of eagerness to do so. We will know that we are in step with the Spirit of this passage when we see our interactions marked by peace.
Mourn With Those Who Mourn
Before you read any further. I am now speaking to anyone reading this who calls them self a follower of Christ.
Our entire faith hinges on these precepts.
1.) Love God, and the second one is like it.
2.) Love your neighbor as yourself.
After Tuesday night’s announcement of Donald Trump as our President elect, there were many in our country who sincerely mourned, and mourn even still. Some of you may be wondering why.
Hear me, wanting to know why is of a high importance. Knowing why someone is hurt is imperative if you sincerely care to love them in such a way that is glorifying to God. But don’t let not understanding someones perspective, justify not showing them empathy or offering them comfort.
Sons and Daughters of the God of All Comfort
As a believer, the question of “why a brother/sister is grieving” ought not be what qualifies them to receive comfort from you. What qualifies you comforting another human being is the fact that you were bought with a price by the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3)
We are recipients of the Lord’s comfort, so that we too can comfort someone else. This is what Jesus does. He knows full well why any of us, in our varying positions and seasons of life would need comfort in times of angst and distress. And He comforts us, not because of our comfort-worthiness, but because He chose to come down, wrap himself in flesh and lavish unworthy sinners with his comfort.
A Responsibility to Humble Discourse & Healing
Jesus is unique. When He comforts us in our times of need, He knows our troubles full well. On the other hand, we as human beings are not all knowing. This sounds a bit elementary even as I type. But upon taking a good look in the mirror in recent months, I have seen how my own perspective and experience can color the way that I relate to, see and treat others. This can be helpful, when sharing different perspectives, but it is a horrible way to relate to or comfort someone with whom you share very little experience (socially, economically, ethnically, politically etc.).
This is called “self-centering.” Yes, we mourn with our neighbors. But we do not stop there. A mark of loving your neighbor as yourself, is … lowering yourself in that moment, so as to put them in the center of the discourse.
See them… all of them.
Be slow to speak and quick to listen.
Give them the benefit of the doubt that you would often unquestionably give to yourself.
Take care to lay any presumptions to the side.
What a model Jesus is for humble relations. He is God, and though He found himself in human form, did not consider his divine status and quality a thing to be grasped.
“but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:7-8
The Good Samaritan
“Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” – Luke 10:30-34
If you see someone grieving, will you pass them by?
Or will you decenter yourself, mourn with them and hear them in such a way that they become the main character of a story that you are hearing for the first time?
I am praying the later outcome for myself.
To be continued…
Of Ashes and Beauty