Friday, February 17, 2012

Unity through humility

For those of us who believe unity is lacking in our country, the obvious goal is to search for guidance that will lead us closer together.

There are many paths we can travel when it comes to this, but the most important teaching on this is in the Bible. Chapter two of the book of Philippians reminds us that humility is an important ingredient when it comes to people succeeding together.

Unfortunately for our country, humility is about the last idea on people’s minds these days. For many, humility is about as appealing as eating an onion sandwich. We live in a culture where we are encouraged to look out for only ourselves, and if that is at the expense of others, then too bad for them.

This looking-out-for-number-one approach is a major reason why our society is fragmenting. If our focus is squarely on ourselves without considering others, selfishness runs rampant and a cold chill runs down the collective spine of our community.

Don’t get me wrong; there are appropriate times when we need to put our individual needs first. However, if this becomes the single focus of our lives, we have lost sight on what is truly important in life.

So, what do we do? Philippians chapter two offers advice. The Apostle Paul writes beginning in verse two: “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

First, it should be noted that Paul was speaking about the steps people should take to maintain harmony within the church. However, I believe this passage has a universal application that extends far outside a church congregation.

Working toward the common good of our nation is something we should all be striving to do, but how “common good” is defined varies from person to person. Paul understood that people were always going to disagree, but their approach to disagreeing was key when maintaining unity.

If a person’s approach to disagreement is shaped by a “me first” attitude then the chances for unity are sharply diminished.

However, if people are disagreeing in the spirit of love and cooperation, then unity has a much better opportunity to survive. It does not mean disagreements will go away, but the managing of differences of opinions will be much less destructive.

It cannot be denied that we live in a country where the self-centered interests of a few can disrupt a lot of people. We see this often in politics on just about every level of government. If only a few wield power without consideration for the welfare of everybody, then many get left out in the cold. In our nation’s case, those being left out in the cold are likely the generations that will follow us.

After all, our federal government is currently $15 trillion in debt. Our generation seems to have adopted a “me first” mentality that is sacrificing the long-term prospects for our children and their children.

Even governments have to pay debts at some point. Right now, it appears most are only interested in doing what helps them and not what will happen later.

For all the rhetoric we hear, neither major political party seems committed to unity – only their version of what America should be. In the coming months, it will be interesting if they strive to unite us or divide us.

My guess is they will choose division. Unity and humility do not have a place in politics much these days.

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