Tim Rine’s lesson yesterday at Vaughn Park church was, in large part, about caring for others, especially thos who are not “in God’s family”. It was about going out to places where sinners are and helping them to “cross the bridge” as they come to the “other side”. A huge part of that lesson was to FOCUS ON OTHERS, NOT OURSELVES. As practical applications of that mentality of focusing on others instead of ourselves, Tim suggested several things for the Vaughn Park church to think about. This idea of not focusing on self is, of course, none other than the emphasis of Jesus on an attitude which we have previously referred to as the foundational principle of Jesus’s teachings and law: HUMILITY, the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) When we begin to realize that we are simply not capable of doing ANYTHIING to earn our salvation, that we must be BEGGARS before God, we start becoming “totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy”, and we begin the process of re-focusing.
Tim suggested several things as part of that re-focusing effort. For one, he suggested that we post a photo of him (Tim) on the mirror where we begin our Sunday mornings as a reminder to pray for him as he speaks God’s word. He also suggested that we might want to consider where we park when we come to worship. Instead of trying to find the closest spot, think of others. While this might seem trivial to some and might be impractical for some (elderly, eg.), it is, none-the-less, in my opinion, a valid application of the UNSELFISH principle found in the first Beatitude. And this “park selflessly” way of thinking can also be practiced in parking lots other than the church’s.
I’ve been teaching for years, much to many people’s dismay, that sitting on the end of the pew in worship is a selfish thing to do–the unselfish thing is to sit in the middle (given that those seats are available). And that’s exactly what Tim suggested yesterday, but I’m sure most people either did not hear him say this, or they have ignored it. And this same principle of unselfish sitting applies not only to worship service seating, but to any other event, such as a PTA meeting, or even a movie or concert. Tim further said, “no one should have to sit alone by themselves in worship”, something which I agree with. Other things could be said about where we sit in worship, but I’ll leave that alone for now.
It may be just be true, as we think about learning this foundational principle of Christianity, that “little things mean a lot”, at least sometimes. Whadya think?
—-Tony Hopper, June 6, 2022