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In Humble Service: I and Community in Creative Tension

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solitude.jpgUnhappiness is caused by the feeling that somehow I do not fit in the greater community.  Feelings of rejection are aroused precisely because I expect to be accepted for who or what I am WITHOUT conditions.  Feeling rejected, I can then do two things:  isolate myself from the community, or in an act of violence eliminate the community.  Isn’t this what is happening among the young (and the not-so-young) who either enclose themselves in a drug-created world or suddenly irrupt in a fit of violence and striking back with their schoolmates with exploding shells… or both?

The tension between Individual and Community cannot be resolved:  they can only be harmonized.  One cannot simply isolate oneself by going to an uninhabited island.  He’d be forced to look for companionship, even if it should only be with a volleyball called “Wilson.”  Nor can one allow oneself to be absorbed into a community and be what everyone wants one to be.  Isn’t this also a reason why people become insane?  Human beings were not made to be alone; nor does a healty existence require the destruction of the “I.”  A requirement of mental health is the cultivation of good relationships where one is involved in a “give and take” with the greater community.  The key is to accept the fact that ONE IS NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

Infants tend to think of themselves as the center of their universe, so they have others at their beck and call.  But soon the infant has to grow and admit that it shares the universe with others, and the center of this shared-universe is Somebody or Something else.  The infant in us grows in the measure that we begin to be convinced that I CANNOT BE THE CENTER OF ANY UNIVERSE.  And that it is better that way.  Megalomaniacs are infants who have grown strong and powerful and who deal with themselves AS IF they were gods.

From the Christian view point, the tension of the I — Community is harmonized in humility and service.  The dignity of the “I” is to have been called even before the foundation of the world to be IN the Body of Christ, who being the HEAD and the junction of the whole cosmos is the rightful center of the universe.  By being included in the Body of Christ, the community of faith, one is then able to have the conditions for acquiring the mind of Christ:

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration:  Fulfil ye my joy, that you be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.  Let nothing be done through contention: neither by vain glory. But in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves:  Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men’s.  For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names:
 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
 And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.  For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.  And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations: That you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: among whom you shine as lights in the world.
(Phil. 2:1-15)

Originally posted 2005-01-21 05:00:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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