The Would-Be Weed-Out Class2
2…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
At many colleges and universities, a disproportionate number of freshmen enroll as aspiring doctors. So they have some very difficult undergraduate pre-requisite classes that are designed to weed out the pretenders from the ones who are serious and who have the chops to actually make it all the way through med school.
If this passage was a pre-requisite to following Jesus, the vast majority of us would be weeded out.
Look at it again: do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…in humility value others above yourselves…not attending to your own interests but to the interests of others.
A very small percentage of us have a personality that’s predisposed towards this kind of generosity of spirit. The rest of us have a long, long way to go. All of us need Jesus and the power of the Spirit to consistently become these kinds of people and to create this kind of community over the long haul.
Can you imagine being a part of a community of people that actually functioned this way? Even if it only functioned this way, say, 60% of the time? It would be one of the greatest and most transformational experiences of your life.
This is the call and invitation from the Scriptures as we’re learning what it means to be on the way with Jesus together: into community that operates like nothing else on earth.
And while there’s never been any church community that’s functioned this way perfectly, any time any inkling of this kind of life surfaces, it’s a sign that the Spirit is at work. And any time we’re either participating in that life or merely experiencing it, it’s life-giving for us and for all those around us.
Take a moment to name and celebrate any experience you’ve had when you or someone around you has demonstrated the virtues Paul names in this passage. Thank the Holy Spirit for the privilege of witnessing (and maybe even demonstrating!) the power of Jesus in community. Ask for those experiences to be multiplied through you and around you…and for eyes to see them and celebrate them.