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United We Stand

Tue, Apr. 23, 2013 Posted: 01:45 PM


In the wake of the Marathon bombing, the city of Boston has pulled together in a remarkable way. The moment the first bomb went off, courageous people rushed in to help the wounded. Exhausted runners summoned up more strength to run to hospitals to donate blood. Law enforcement officers risked their lives to capture the suspects. Money has poured in to assist the victims in their recovery.

In fact, there has been a worldwide outpouring of support for Boston. Sports rivalries, personal animosity, and even national hostilities have been set aside, at least temporarily, to show solidarity with a grieving city. The spirit of the Marathon itself—the spirit of camaraderie and unity—has carried over into the days following the tragedy.

As I mentioned in my first blog reflecting on the Marathon bombing, we all have a longing to be part of a community. Unfortunately, some look for acceptance and bonding in the wrong places—in a gang or a group of drug buddies or a terrorist cell. But there are many legitimate ways to find community and fellowship—a family, a sports team, a knitting circle, a workplace, a fraternity or sorority, a charitable organization, a professional society, a cultural community, a book club, a bowling league. And God has given us the Body of Christ to satisfy the longing for fellowship that He has planted in us and also to be a lighthouse pointing the way to the Kingdom of love and fellowship that He is establishing.

This week we are studying Philippians 2:1-11 in Bible study, and as I read the passage it struck me that it describes the kind of community we want to be part of. The first part of the passage talks about the qualities we should be developing as we live with one another:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (vv. 1-4).

Can you imagine if we fully put into practice the qualities and actions described here: encouragement, comfort, love, affection, sympathy, joy, unity, love, humility (no selfish ambition or conceit), looking out for others?

Our model is Jesus Himself:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God 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 (vv. 5-8).

He is the embodiment of humility and sacrifice. He is equal with God the Father, but He gave up everything to come to earth as a servant and even to die for us.

And the final result will be that He is exalted above all and will draw us into full communion with Him:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (vv. 9-11).

As Paul says in Ephesians 1, God’s purpose for the fullness of time is to unite all things in Christ (vv. 9-10). Philippians 2 tells us how to live in the meantime—how to live out our faith and live into the unity that will one day be a complete reality.

In time, life in Boston will go back to what is more normal: ordinary violence will keep happening, neighbors will fight with each other again, and the Yankees will go back to hating the Red Sox. But we have the promise that God will one day fully bring in His Kingdom of love, justice, unity, and peace. If you know Jesus Christ, you have this hope in you, and you want to live it out in your daily life, with Jesus as your model. As John says,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 Jn. 3:1-3).

If you don’t know Him but you feel a stirring in your heart to want to be part of this kind of community, come to Him. Please forgive us Christians for failing so often to practice the kind of love and humility we are called to as followers of Jesus Christ—as John says, we are not yet what we should be! But one day God’s Kingdom of peace will be a full reality, and in the meantime we can get a foretaste of it by living out our calling as children of God and lights in the world (Phil. 2:15).

 

Diane Castro