Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: –Philippians 2
As a photographer – or, more accurately, “a writer/observer who sometimes frames his world through the lens of a camera” – the only images I have of myself tend to be hurried selfies. So Sunday, after being picked on mercilessly all morning at church for dressing nicely, I talked Rebekah into a time-delay photo in front of the Christmas tree. One shot, one official photo.
I’ll probably use it in our annual newsletter, but I’m impatient enough I’m going to go ahead and share the image today.
While I’m at it I’ll also give you the heart of our Christmas message in one thought. It’s simple and straightforward enough to adopt as a New Year’s intention too.
In a world increasingly defined by self-interest at the expense of community, Jesus invites us to embrace humility, value our neighbor, and meet one-another under the canopy of God’s self-giving love.
I think our church family models this beautifully, especially via the way we serve one-another and the community too.
We have members who represent all points of the political and social compass, but the overarching theme is love and respect. Many people confuse unity with uniformity – but they are nowhere near the same idea. We are called more to be Christ-minded than we are like-minded. Obviously it is important to have “the same mind”, but that is more a frame of reference (Jesus), not a requirement to think in lockstep.
I talk about this a lot, but it is important for us to understand that every last one of us is likely wrong as much as we are right when it comes to forming and expressing positions and opinions. So we can disagree, and we can certainly try to advance or advocate for a point of view, but our calling (as Rebekah likes to point out) is not to be right but to be faithful.
So let’s encourage one another and lift each other up in love! Think and argue and have deep conversations from the same perspective, the point-of-view of following Jesus. If we can’t always agree at least be united in Christ. It’s not about being right but practicing humility and thinking of others as better than ourselves. It’s not about our own advantage but working for the betterment of others. Be like Jesus, full of grace, and mercy, and humility, and encouragement. (author paraphrase of Philippians 2:1-5)
Peace, and I mean that in every way – Derek (and Rebekah)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.