Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 ESV
Unity is a delicate and deliberate balance of appreciating and accepting differences and diversity.
We fight against judging others based on past experiences or preconceived expectations. Our fears keep doors unopened and erect walls of opposition.
Our first response is likely a faulty reaction.
Noted author and Pastor, Charles Swindoll reminds us, “Prejudice is a learned trait. You are not born prejudiced, you are taught it.”
Charlotte Brontë, in her classic work, “Jane Eyre” wrote, “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
Paul encourages believers in the one of the most influential, powerful, and political cities in the ancient world, to practice social justice in cultural reform. He wrote to the first century church in Rome of God’s mercy, “I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.” (Rom 11:25 NLT)
Further in his letter, the Apostle gives instructions “to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you” (ROM 12:1); “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom 12:2); “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good,” (Rom 12:9); and, “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” (Rom 12:14).
Paul concludes with a practical and powerful protocol . . . “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.” (Rom 12:15-16 NLT)
Empathy. Understanding and sharing the feelings of others is a reformation that “changes for the better as a result of correcting abuses.” Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler states, “Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” It is sharing and supporting other’s happiness and heartaches, blessings and burdens, and pleasures and pains.
Examination. These challenging times have exposed my own pride, autonomy, delusions of self-sufficiency, and tendency to grumble and complain. My feelings may not be fair. Introspective leads to improvement. Self-examination is a sacred efficacy. The prophet, Jeremiah encourages us, “Instead, let us test and examine our ways.” (Lam 3:40 NLT)
Example. Jesus illustrates the necessity of helping those who are hurting. The parable of Good Samaritan is not an example of convenience, but of compassion. Mother Teresa teaches, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Caring for the hurt, harmed and hopeless is the greatest expression of compassion.
Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius, in his memoir, “Meditations”, wrote, “If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”
During these days of confusion, chaos and conflict . . . see other’s hurts and heartache with empathy, see your own failings and faults by examining, and set a new standard with an example of compassion and community.
“Primum non nocere“ . . . First, do no harm.