In his book “The Me I Want To Be”, Pastor John Ortberg makes a very intuitive observation: “Challenges undertaken for the greater good bind us to people. The pursuit of comfort, however, leads to isolation – and isolation is terminal.”
The church has been aware of this truth ever since our early days and has taken determined steps to counteract the culture that influences us toward self-centered behaviors and attitudes. Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 1 Corinthians 16:15 “They have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.” All these passages are reminders of our responsibility as maturing members of the Body of Christ to put the good of the community above our own. The problem, of course, is this is completely counter-cultural. As the group Mercy Me reminds us in one of their lyrics, “How can I further your Kingdom when I’m so wrapped up in mine?” (In The Blink Of An Eye)
It is absolutely amazing that we have such a natural bent toward destructive behavior. We know we should eat better, but we can’t resist overindulging. We know we should exercise, but we’re just too tired. We know we should practice spiritual disciplines, but we don’t have time. We know we should engage more fully in the community of faith so we can grow in our faith, develop a support and accountability network to keep us on track in our spiritual development and exercise our spiritual gifts by serving others, but, quite frankly, we’ve got other things to do. Besides that, people waste our time and resources, don’t always do what we want, and, quite honestly, annoy us.
However, Paul reminds us we are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)