A different way to respond to one another

– By Ron Simkins

Recently, our teachings at New Covenant Fellowship have been focused around what it means to BEG—Build other up, Encourage others, and Grace others—and how counter-cultural it is to be oriented toward others in those ways.

Since I began this series of teachings, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that my decision to be a “BEGGAR” and to encourage New Covenant Fellowship to be a “Community of BEGGARS” involves a deeper transformation that I ever imagined.

Even though I am pretty low-key and relatively affirming, God’s light seems to keep shining on how often I respond inwardly, and all too often outwardly as well, by thinking, “Where are the empty spaces (the holes) in this that need to be filled?” rather than thinking “How can I build others up, encourage them and offer grace?”

Of course there are holes in everything we do or say. But, if we are to be encouraged, we need people to first focus on what is good and right and positive, not on what is lacking or missing. I am not at all Pollyana about this. There is a place for filling in the empty spaces in everything we do, both as a community and as individuals. However, most of the time, the right priority is not to respond by focusing on these empty spaces—these holes—in people’s gifts, service, plans, and talents. That should come much later after it is clear, not in some surface nicety, but to the core, that we are “for one another” and “with one another.”

Part of the problem is that I have been deeply trained by our education system and society to be a “problem solver” rather than a “beggar”—so much so that I often don’t even know I am taking all the good for granted and focusing on the empty spaces in what we are doing for God and one another.

New Covenant is my community. I am overwhelmingly proud of our focus on Jesus and on caring for others around us. I am thrilled with our attempts to bring personal piety and social justice together in one community. It is fabulous to be where intellectual questions and doubts and wonderings can be voiced and where passionate worship can be participated in. I love our willingness to respect individuality and emphasize community.

Having said all of that, we have miles to go in letting God teach us to make our first response to what people say and do to be one characterized by Building, Encouraging, and Grace. This may be the most alternative cultural transformation we can imagine in our community and individual lives. Are we ready to beg the God of the Possible do this Impossible transformation in our lives, together and individually?

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