FF40 – Day 12 on Community | From Andrew Johnston

Day 12 – Community

Proverbs 27:5-6 | Philippians 2:1-2 | Galatians 6:2

I can be a pretty self-centered person. I’ve always consoled myself with the
fact that I’m not “selfish” per se— after all, I don’t hold on too tightly to my
possessions, I’m often generous with my resources, and I never take the
last or largest piece of pizza. Nevertheless, I’ve come to the inescapable
conclusion that I can be disturbingly self-centered.

In the rush of my life, I regularly become preoccupied with the Things That
Matter To Me. It’s like I get tunnel vision and all I really see clearly or care
about deeply is me and mine: my responsibilities and opportunities, my
To Do list, my priorities and aspirations, my feelings and fears, etc. It’s not
even that these things are always bad things, but they are definitely only
my things. Only after times like these do I realize how much my perceptions
and attention have narrowed, and how much I’ve been personally filling the
entire frame of my picture of the world.

When I read these passages, I realize that God calls his people to have a
different point of view. He calls us to focus beyond ourselves and to resist
becoming enamored or entangled so exclusively with the charms and
challenges of our own lives. He calls us to shift our perspectives upward and
outward, more God-centered and other-centered, until our own issues and
desires look instrumental or even incidental in the context of the bigger
picture. These verses remind me that a real community is defined by and
dependent on this decidedly different point of view.

This perspective is the prerequisite to empathy and real love. It’s what
enables people to be genuine with one another and speak truthfully about
the deeper and harder things. It conjures the deep magic of one mind
and many talents. It’s the only thing that manages to transform a bunch of
individuals carrying out their private lives in proximity into men and women
who manage to see past the noise of their own lives to measure and meet
the needs of others’.

Andrew Johnston
Associate Provost and Dean of Students

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