Coming in Not Hot

“We didn’t ask for special treatment from people, although we could have thrown our weight around as Christ’s apostles. Instead, we were gentle with you like a nursing mother caring for her own children. We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much… For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” – 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8, 11-12

Years ago my apartment was a training ground for Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the base of my building was a Jehovah’s Witness church. I am sure that every new missionary launched from that little church started their journey on my doorstep. At my apartment they found a willing conversation partner. At first, I would attempt to engage the young missionaries in debate. I was sure that I could flex my theological education, overcome their arguments, and somehow win. After seeing several new pairs of missionaries over the course of many months I decided that I needed to do something different. I was treating the visiting missionaries as sparring partners, not as people. So when the next pair arrived, I invited them in, served them some refreshments and began to ask them about their lives. At first it was odd departing from the same cyclical arguments. Yet over time the mutual sharing of our lives began to feel much more caring, honest, and holy.

The Apostle Paul reminds the early church that he did not come with pomp and power but with humility. Humility was revealed in his gentle caring, and in his genuine desire to share life together with them. Paul encourages them to follow this way of humility; he celebrates the way they have imitated the good they saw in Paul and his companions (1:6). Through his example, Paul encourages the church to nurture humility as a foundational value of ministry. Paul knew that fostering humility would be key for a church that faced persecution. Humility is the path way to love those who persecute you. Humility, is the way to develop compassion for those who wish you harm.

Church let us nurture the humble hearts we have been given. Let us share our honest and holy doubts and hopes, our prayers and worries with one another as a practice of humility. The humble are honest with themselves and honest with others. Let us demonstrate what it looks like when a community cares for each other in humility and grace.