What happens when we only think of ourselves? In our house if each person only thought of themselves, life would be completely unpleasant and utterly chaotic. Conflict would rage (more than it does!) and an implosion would follow.
What if our communities only thought of ourselves? What if we were only concerned about us? That we were focused on the survival of our community? That we didn’t look beyond ourselves to something bigger . . . .
The challenge of the gospel is that we are in fact called to look beyond ourselves. The church does not exist for the sake of itself. The one exists for the sake of the other. The other is everybody else who isn’t a part of our faith communities. The other is everybody else who don’t occupy our pews, pay money into the offering, or take part in decisions of the church.
How many times did Jesus encounter those who were “outside”? The gospel stories are full of such encounters – the woman at the well, the disturbed man residing with the pigs, the lepers, the man who called out for healing on a Sabbath, the woman caught in adultery. How concerned for those beyond us are we really? Jesus upset those who were so concerned for themselves. The turning upside down of the temple, the calling out of the Pharisees who were so lost in the letter of the law, they weren’t actually living it out as a covenant of love for the other.
The Body of Christ is not about who we are as we care for ourselves, or look to have ourselves cared for by ministry agents. The Body of Christ is a community called to be active participants in the transforming work of God in the world – beyond ourselves. Beyond the boundary lines of our property and gathered times.
Some of us will find it challenging to think beyond ourselves, it is terribly uncomfortable! Some of us have experience and can guide others to take some small steps in beginning to do so. It might start with introducing yourself to your neighbours, or doing something that demonstrates God’s love and kindness to another as you are out about. It might be that you continue to engage the world in the work – paid or just what you do – you are already doing that brings about change and connection. Perhaps we journey with young people and children to also think beyond ourselves as a community of faith.
What is the story you might have of thinking beyond ourselves . .
Strategic Focus for the presbytery – Assisting congregations and faith communities to: Thrive, and use resources well for mission.
Denise Savage, Presbytery Minister for Leadership Formation. If you would like Denise to visit your congregation, to listen and share around leadership formation, contact us via the Presbytery Office 6331 9784 or Denise 0427 647 395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.