Importance of Being Other Minded
The past few devotionals we’ve looked at some of the primary reasons gathering together and participating in the life of the church are critical for our relationship with God and each other. We’ve looked at Hebrews 10 and Acts 2 where scripture instructs us to not give up meeting together and to devote ourselves to the teaching of God’s Word, fellowship, prayer, the breaking of bread, and worship. These things are to be done regularly and in community. Although we are to walk with the Lord in our own personal lives, God did not create us to live out our faith apart from each other. Former President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “You may worship God anywhere, at any time, but the chances are that you will not do so unless you have first learned to worship Him somewhere in some particular place, at some particular time.” When we come together and do the things mentioned above, we become better worshippers. That’s why I think it was so refreshing to see one another this past Sunday in our familiar place of worship! What a blessing it was to hear the preaching of God’s Word, sing together in the sanctuary, pray and take communion together, and renew relationship with one another.
As we’ve learned during these past 15 months, much is lost when we’re not able to gather together or see each other regularly. We miss many blessings of corporate life. We suffer socially, emotionally, and even spiritually. They say you don’t realize how much you miss something until it’s taken away. But after a prolonged period of time, I think we sometimes forget what we lost in the first place and how it may affect us. Interestingly, I think one of the most important things that being together in corporate worship does for us is that it gets us outside of ourselves. A closer look at Hebrews 10 and Acts 2 reveals that the community of believers met together in large part for the benefit of others. It says that they encouraged one another, served each other, shared, and gave to anyone that had need. This is right in line with Jesus’ commands about how to be Christlike. In Mark 10:43-45, Jesus says “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
I think scripture is constantly reminding us to consider how we can love and serve one another like Jesus did; in other words, how to be selfless or other-minded. For most of us this takes a real concerted effort (and prayer for the Lord’s help) because it’s just not natural for us to place others’ interests above our own. We know what we want and what we need. And I think it’s gotten harder during the pandemic to think outside ourselves. One thing I’ve noticed from the past 15 months is that the constant seclusion and isolation (and meeting in a virtual environment with no one else around), while it can encourage us to walk closer with the Lord, it can also make us more self-focused. Our sensitivity and compassion to others and their needs is dulled because we don’t see them. In many ways, it’s hard to serve the interests of others if we’re not present with each other. Various surveys show that anywhere from 30-40% of couples today first met online. What an incredible change in how people find romantic relationships from previous generations. But something that hasn’t changed is when they want to get serious about their relationship they still meet in-person. They come together. Similarly, in the church, learning to build meaningful relationships and serve one another requires presence, being together. This doesn’t mean we can’t be creative and utilize the technology available to us. But however God gathers us together, let us put the interests of others’ first and we will grow individually and corporately as a church to become more Christlike.