|It's not all about you! It's all about Apple... right?|
1.) I like reading lists.
2.) I like compiling lists of my own.
Paul is one of the most profound list-makers of all time. The NT is littered with Paul's frank and explicit lists. Think fruits of the Spirit, armor of God, spiritual gifts, etc... What many are also quick to notice is how Paul is just as plain in listing the things that God hates. These lists tend to run the same rhythm from letter to letter and serve to communicate the stupid ways that Paul had seen many lead their lives. Practices like debauchery, drunkenness, sexual immorality, and idolatry were common practices in the Greco-Roman world (... or America) that Paul sought to inject faith and love into. I tend to communicate in lists like this as well (see nearly every last paragraph in nearly every post on this site). But I think, deep down, these lists hint at something that is ungodly:
I tend to write for attention, just as almost all of my actions seek attention.
Striving for community is not a bad thing. We were created for it! But one of Paul's common evils listed is "selfish ambition." Selfish ambition drives us in nearly everything we do (I can't speak for all of you, but I CAN speak for many). Lists are used to compare the things we see and do, and so I use lists to compare my thoughts or beliefs to others' viewpoints. But over time, this has devolved in my life to the point where now I compare myself to other people constantly. Ambition drives me to be above, better, far more "awesome" than those around me... and that is a terrible way to walk.
To combat selfish ambition, one needs to hear Paul speak of freedom in Galatians 5: "1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." and "13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Selfish desires for attention, sugar coated as "selfish ambition," is a yoke that serves to blind us from serving others. We are called to love, which requires empathy. The development of empathy can only come from serving others (especially when we would rather do anything else).
Paul knows that Jesus came to liberate through servitude via love. If we want to live (and love) as Jesus did, we need to learn to serve others in everything. In doing so, we will live life to the fullest in genuine community, and our selfish ambitions will become instead the realizations of something meaningful. No longer will we compare ourselves with others for our own sense of self identity. Instead, our Christ-like walk will lead us into the identities we were truly meant to own.
I leave you with Paul:
"2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load." - Galatians 6:2-5
Would love to hear your freedom stories!