-Jesus the Christ (according to John 13:34-35)
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” -Paul of Tarsus (according to Philippians 2:3-4)
A member of our congregation recently shared an article with me comparing face covering usage in Asian countries and the U.S. While, several factors influence willingness to mask (for example, those with a higher trust in government are more likely to comply), there is a cultural distinction between emphasis on the person and emphasis on the society, rugged American individualism versus cultures with a different sense of communal responsibility.
The author explains that in Japan, it relates to the concept of giri, or duties toward others. Koreans refer to inhwa, the social value of cultural harmony. It was striking to the person who shared the article with me that these historically non-Christian or Christian minority cultures have a clear sense of the values espoused in the above scriptures. Placing the interests of others alongside, or even above, the interests of self was a core practice of the early church.
If you’re a person of extraordinary empathy it can be overwhelming to experience, process and understand all that is happening in our world. Many of the issues and events affecting our daily lives are about care for the other. Throughout the scriptures there are calls, again and again, to care for one another. And as we live into that call in this moment by limiting our personal freedoms for the common good, we will hone that skill and better live into being the church.
Loving with the love of Jesus is tough. It’s about empathy and humility, and it requires sacrifice. It’s about a sense of duty to others and a value of social cooperation. Those are all things of which our world is desperately in need right now, things Jesus not only teaches but embodies, things that we are called to as disciples. I’ve seen it at work in our congregation, so I trust that in the days ahead we can muster the faithful courage to care for others all the more.
Peace for the journey,