Common Traits, Common Myths

Look at any gathering of people, and what you will obviously find among every group is commonality.  They are together because they have something in common, and sometimes it may not be that significant a thing.  When we were little, our best friend was most likely our neighbor, because we had the commonality of the same street.  In the high school cafeteria, a scene which hasn’t changed in quite a number of years, you are bound to find some group with common interests no matter what table you look at: the football players, the honor students, the gamers, theater tech, whatever.  We tend to flock together based on our common interests, and when we find a group that has similar interests to ourselves, we tend to stick with those people because of that commonality.  Similarly, I mention to my students that the single reason they go to school with the people they do is also because of geography: they all live in the same town, so they go to the same school.  Yet, is being a neighbor or living in the same town enough to bond people together?  When they all decide to go to college, the bonds they form there are traditionally stronger than high school, as the commonality of those college people goes well beyond geography: they all choose to go there, thus they have that common interest.  So, I warn my seniors that when they leave high school, there’s a strong chance that their friendships with each other will fall apart, because geography may no longer be enough to keep them together.  As we get older, our commonalities tend to go deeper.  Yes, we attend book groups, frequent recipe web sites, and walk our dogs together as a means of connection, but if these are the only commonalities you have with those people, more than likely you are satisfied with only spending an hour a week with them.  In age, we tend to require depth to our relationships, a place where our values, thought processes, and emotional resonance tend to all vibrate at the same frequencies.  When we meet together at church, we have the commonality of faith, a trait that goes deeper than most others.  We have our foundations rooted in Christ, believing that He is our savior and we live to serve Him.  Yet, despite this strong common thread and bond that runs through us, dissension and a lack of harmony sometimes enters the picture.  We forget about our common ground because we don’t actively pursue a deepening to our relationships.  1 Peter 3.8 instructs us towards a stronger bond based on our faith: “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”  In addition to being like-minded (our commonality), we must move beyond what brought us together and work on what keeps us together.  Of the five commands to us in that verse, one is mental (like-mindedness), two are emotional (sympathy and compassion), one is an internal action (humility), and the other encompasses all of them (love).  If we truly want to get along and grow as a body, we need to actively care for each other using our head, heart, and hands.  Resting on our faith really isn’t enough, or we risk becoming like the Pharisees who cared for no one but the law.  Putting these words into action, we should lift each other up in thought, word, action, and prayer, looking to better others within the body instead of merely bettering ourselves.  This week, allow your interactions with other Christians to be not only based in your beliefs, but also rooted in a faith that requires effort and action, one that puts others before ourselves, and use your commonality not as criteria for interaction to be met but as a foundation upon which to build.  Amen.

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