Jesus gave an important command to his disciples and to all Christians. He told them to love each other. ‘To love other people’ was not a new command
Leviticus 19:18 (NLT)18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Jesus showed how much he loved us by means of his death. He became a sacrifice on our behalf. He suffered the punishment that we all deserve. He loved us when we were sinners. He continues to love us, even when we do bad things. He even loves people who reject him. Jesus loves people in a way that is completely unselfish. That is the way that Christians should love each other. This kind of love is more than just a feeling. We show it by means of what we do on behalf of other people. We should help people and we should not expect a reward. When people hurt us, we must not hurt them back.
Other people often watch how Christians behave. They want to know if our faith makes us different.
Lately, the news has been extremely disheartening. COVID-19 cases are on the rise, racial injustice continues, and we are more polarized politically than ever.
Here in America, the presidential debate was more caustic than any other in recent history. We are not alone. Other countries are polarized as well. To make matters worse, the polarization seems to be ripping apart churches.
Philippians 2:2 NLT Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
If the Apostle Paul was writing to the church today he would be writing to a church that is divided. Today we are not like-minded, we don’t have the same love or of one mind. I wonder what he would say?
Well let's look at what he wrote:
Philippians 2:1-3 NIV Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (emphasis mine)
The phrase, “value others” stands out as key to how we handle ourselves during these difficult days. As followers of Jesus, we need to consider our posture in light of COVID-19, racial injustice, severe weather events, wildfires and other critical events. So, how should believers respond?
Here are four suggestions;
1. Stay Humble
Philippians 2:5 NIV In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Christ's mindset was one of humility.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV
Jesus never fought to grip the power that was rightfully Jesus never once, in any of the Gospels, demanded His rights be met. He came as a servant and calls those of us who follow Him to do the same.
John 13:12-17 NIV When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Humility can begin with simple things, like wearing a mask. You might have a high resistance to diseases and a great immune system, but others around you might not. It’s a small inconvenience to wear a mask, but it’s also a loving gesture to protect others.
2. Be Empathic
Philippians 2:3 NIV Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
We have strong opinions, and we want to prove our point. It’s okay to have strong opinions, as long as those views aren’t used to attack other people. Rather than arguing to prove your point, why not listen to understand? Learn to listen with empathy.
Empathy has been described as the ability to walk in another’s shoes. In other words, putting yourself where the other person is so you can understand their feelings. That’s exactly what Jesus did. He left the glories of heaven to walk in our shoes. As His followers, He calls us to offer an empathic ear to others.
The current racial issues we are facing give us an opportunity to practice empathy. We have a whole segment of the population who are not feeling heard or valued. Ask us if we’ve experienced racial prejudice. Focus your attention on understanding and offering empathy. Do not correct, judge, scold, or offer solutions. Just listen and seek to understand.
3. Show Respect
Every person has been created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:26 NIV Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
No matter what a person’s political views are, they are to be treated with respect.
When you listen to someone with respect, you affirm and appreciate their uniqueness.
Romans 12:10 NIV Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
As I think about our current polarized culture, I wonder, where is the church? How do unbelievers see us? Are we listening with respect, even when we disagree? How can we cross the distance to make another person feel valued even if they have a different perspective than us?
4. Stay Calm
Jesus never became frantic or frazzled.
He came to bring calm to our chaos. He invites us to bring His calm to others.
John 16:33 NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He is still in control and so you have every reason to reassure those around you that it’s going to be okay. God is in control. Speak it and show it with your life.
The question of our current times isn’t necessarily what will happen in the time after the election. The question is, how will you show up during these uncertain times?
Will you have the same attitude that Jesus had, being humble, empathic, respectful, and calm? The truth is, the world hears our actions louder than your words.