“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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.”
Many years ago, I would read scriptures like these and agree with them and believe them, but I was also left a little lost with them. This was because I didn’t have a real place of service in the kingdom of God. I didn’t have a great place to apply them. I wasn’t consistently serving in my community, my church, etc.
When you aren’t doing these things, firstly, it’s pretty easy to be like minded (“of one mind” vs. 2) with the few people you have in your life that you are friends with. That’s kind of why we have the friends we have, for the most part. You have similar thoughts and ideas about life. You naturally “get along” with them. So this scripture isn’t referring to our close friends. God is asking us to reach out past those that we naturally get along with.
Secondly, it’s hard to legitimately say that you aren’t doing anything “out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, not looking to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”, when you aren’t serving in your community. Even serving your family to a certain degree is self beneficial. But when you are serving in your community, at a shelter, or a club for kids, or through your church, by teaching children in Sunday school, leading a Bible study, serving in VBS, or cooking for someone in need, you are truly looking not just to your own interests (though we all know that these things do bring us joy, and that’s truly awesome), but you are now also looking to the needs of another.
There are many such scriptures that simply cannot be practiced well when we are not serving our community. Did you know that in the English Standard Version of the Bible, the phrase “one another” appears 53 times in the epistles alone? That’s a lot of “one another’ing”!
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer…
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another.
2 Corinthians 13:11 Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace…
Ephesians 4:2 …with all humility and gentleness, withpatience,bearing with one another in love…
2 Thessalonians 1:3 … the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
James 5:9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged…
1 John 1:7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another…
Hebrews 10:25 …not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.
…to name a few!
If you find church uncomfortable, it’s okay. You’re not alone! Don’t let that deter you from being a part of your church body. Those uncomfortable feelings are meant to be part of the refining process! Find a place to serve, find someone to disciple you, and don’t be intimidated by your own short comings, or the short comings of those around you! Church is not perfect… far from it. It’s filled with imperfect people all trying to work out their salvation, as God is working in them, giving them the desire and power to please Him (Philippians 2:12-13). But it is one of the places that we are called to do all this “one another’ing”!