From my office window situated on the top floor of our sanctuary building, a bird’s-eye view offers a unique perspective of the rear parking lots and of people coming and going. In the upper parking lot designated for families with young children, parents are lugging diaper bags, baby carriers, strollers and usually multiple children through a busy lot to the rear of the nursery building. Even though the energy and effort to get everyone to church cleaned and dressed on-time adds to a hectic pace, these families are here, and for their labor of love I am glad. What I see each time parents bring their children to church is a disciple of Christ going the extra mile to “count others more significant than themselves.”
In addition to seeing young families take advantage of our upper parking lot, I also see elderly folks who have difficulty walking taking advantage of the parking lot with the easiest route into the building. Some of these elderly folks have canes, some have walkers, and some have non-visible health issues (like recent surgeries or heart disease) that necessitate using a parking lot with proximity. The effort our elderly display is amazing, and I am always inspired by the labor of love that compels them to dress, drive and attend church. Additionally, I am also inspired when I see healthy, able-bodied adults and teens parking in the lower lot. On numerous occasions on Sunday mornings I look out to see folks intentionally pass by the upper lots and choose parking that is the farthest from the entrances. Though they do not see who they are aiding by choosing a more distant parking spot, they know that it is right, good and appropriate to give closer parking spaces to those who have a greater need. What I see are disciples of Christ going the extra mile to “count others more significant than themselves.”
Being “other oriented” is quite often difficult for people of faith. The culture in which we live reinforces a “me-centered, me-first” attitude. Drive-thru lines at fast food restaurants and self-checkouts in stores are subtle prompts that our time, our convenience and our lives are most important. On-line banking, on-line bill paying, and on-line shopping are subtle prompts that we need to always do what is easiest, simplest, quickest for us. We live in a culture that targets personal convenience at numerous levels, yet a Christ- centered culture seeks to teach us to think beyond ourselves. We are taught to live with a vision of the kingdom of God; a kingdom that calls for us to seek, not being first, but to be last. We put ourselves last because of Christ’s love, and because this is the way, the truth, and the life of Christ!
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus from a prison cell. Paul is in jail because he has placed others first as he has proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. He writes to the Philippians to have the mind of Christ, and in so doing he pens these words, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more signifi- cant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” May this be our every Sunday, every day attitude whether in choosing a parking spot or with something far more significant and weightier. May others see Jesus in us always!
Joy for the Journey, Jay