Devotion for the First Sunday in October
 
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2)
I get distressed and angry every time I listen to the new or see what is going on in the world. We live in a deeply divided society, country, and world. We are deeply polarized, and we do not seem to be able to talk or listen to one another. We know the gridlock in Washington, DC, but we see the same gridlock in our community, in our churches.
So then, what does Paul mean to “be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind”? We know that we are called to find common ground with one another, but how do we do that? If we cannot talk and listen when we disagree, how can we hope to find common ground with one another? How do we live and practice this in the church? How do we live and practice this in our society and country?
The key for Paul is the mindset that we take. He continues to tell the Philippians: “4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:4-5) Paul then says that Christ emptied himself for us, and so we are called to empty ourselves as well. If we are to find common ground, then we must lay aside our egos and our agendas. We must look out for one another and see what others need.
Think about the responses we have seen in Florida and Texas. We know how to set aside our differences when disaster strikes. Can we do that outside of earthquakes and fires? What would it mean for the church to “empty” itself as Christ “emptied” himself? If you began to “empty yourself,” what would be some of the first things that would have to go?
I may not be able to change the conditions of the world, but I can change my own heart, my own life. I can empty myself and look to the interest of others. I can continue to let Christ be formed in me.
God, we are a divided society and world, and I feel the divisions within me. May Christ be so formed in me that I may empty myself for the sake of others so that your healing and wholeness may occur. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
In Christ,
Pastor David Armstrong-Reiner