Our environment pushes us to selfishness. That's the easy path.
That's not what we're called to in the church. As we get to the evaluation phase of this series, we need to also remember that selflessness is a necessary value of the church.
Paul would describe selflessness of the type required as "submission." (Note: there could be an entire series - taking 8 years if I write it, hardee-har-har - talking about submission vis a vis the role of women in marriage. My concern with the term is more limited - yet general - in scope for the purposes of this series.) It is placing the needs & desires above your own.
Ephesians 5 talks about this. In verse 21:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Or as he states it in Philippians:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves
Submission is a dirty word (in large part, but not solely, because of the aforementioned debate related to the role of women) in our culture. Yet if we are to call ourselves Christians, "little Christs" we ought to strive to be like Him most of all. He was selfless, not just giving His life (not that I'm diminishing that!) but also in his daily life on Earth.
- He submitted to John's baptism, even though John himself said Jesus was the greater.
- He submitted to Mary at the wedding in Cana, turning water to wine at her request.
- He submitted to the tax collectors in Capernaum.
- He submitted to the centurion's request to heal a servant.
- He submitted to the Father's will in Gethsemane.
There are more episodes of submitting to others - in healing, in acknowledging the place of leaders, in dining with the outcasts.
We ought to be like this. It is hard, but in church especially we should be looking to benefit & bless others, even before ourselves.
Next up: scripture, then the evaluation.