“that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love,”
We love a sense of belonging. We yearn for relationship and yet live so fragmented. I am convinced that this is one of our greatest challenges to overcome in the church. We greet each other well enough and inquire about our health. Yet we tend to walk separate ways and splash back into the rapid current in the rivers of our lives. The overall effect leaves many feeling empty and disconnected, looking for something to fulfill that innate urge for community.
The root of this great tree is deep. Our society is not only laced with a subdivision of classes, but an ambition to scratch, claw, and pound its way up to the top of the ever-elusive heap. There many areas that can be observed and critiqued in this regard; for expediency I will examine one. The word career is a relatively new term that gained popularity in the middle and later nineteenth century. It was predominantly used in the sense of a course of professional life or employment that offered advancement or honor. A word used in similar circumstances is “profession” and though it is an older word, it began to take on new meanings when it was detached from the concept of a “calling.” Once independent, the word was given to express the new idea of a career.
A calling once meant the reason a person would enter a profession. Within this reason would be the ultimate purpose of functioning within a community and strengthening its basis. I can illustrate this simply by pointing to the one profession or career that is still referred to as being filled by a “calling;” This of course, is the position of what we commonly refer to as “minister” (acknowledging fully that technically we are all ministers). If a person attempts to minister as a J-O-B as opposed to being called, he and his ministry is doomed from the start.
Society has twisted the priority though. Now, instead of a ‘calling’ being the motivating force of entering a profession, the profession becomes a career and is no longer obligated to the ultimate good of the community as a whole. It seeks goals on an impersonal and selfish basis. Rather than being a cohesive part of the community, following a profession now typically means quite literally “to move up and away.” The modern professional has subsequently convinced themselves that they have been handed an invisible license to look down on those who aren’t in their rank. The goal then is no longer strengthening the body of people, but to achieve “success.” Presently, the definition of “success” is as volatile as sea-sand and its appetite is insatiable for more that no level achievement will satisfy.
The world will continue this pattern indefinitely. However, in the church we find a sanctuary for all peoples, of all nationalities, male or female, slave or free, rich or poor, professional or layman, intellectual or otherwise (Galatians 3:28). In the church we are of one body – the body of Christ Jesus. The field is dramatically leveled and we stand eye to eye, toe to toe, equals in essence. In other words, we have the format for the perfect community. In this body, we are all called – called according to His purpose, which means that we are all doing what is in the best interest of the other person. That in itself is the definition of agape – God’s love. In this community we have been knit together in love.
In this New Year, I want to encourage you to strive for things that constitute the kingdom of heaven and realize that our efforts must be in chorus with the body of Christ that resides therein (Matt. 6:3; Phil. 2:3). If you are waiting for your brother or sister to make the first move, perhaps they are waiting on you to do likewise – so be a leader – live the sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
Now go spread the word and keep the Faith.