I remember my little boys, determined that they no longer needed Mom’s help, carefully laying out their shirts on the bed. As soon as they saw their favorite super-hero or cartoon character looking at them, they just knew they had it right. So they leaned over, grabbed the hem, and slipped the tee shirt over their heads, only to look down and see the blank backside of the shirt swathing their tummies. So they ripped it off over their heads and tried again. This time it was on front side to the front, but inside out.
Sometimes they wore it out the door inside out before I could catch them. We had lessons on seams and labels, and finally they figured it out, more often than not anyway. As we all grow up, though, we must learn that “inside out” is the way a Christian is supposed to operate every day.
Babies have only their own perspectives. If they cannot see you, then you cannot see them. If they cannot feel it, it cannot be felt and is not important. If they want it, no one else should have it. Eventually we learn to think from other perspectives, those outside of our own. We realize that just because I cannot see you with my covered up eyes, that does not mean my whole body is hidden.
Eventually, we learn to think about others’ feelings, turning our thoughts “inside out.” At least, that is the way it is supposed to work. Too many times though, we operate as if the feelings inside ourselves are the only that matter, ready to excuse ourselves without giving the other person the same benefit.
If I cut someone off in traffic, it is because I am late for an important appointment. If the other guy does it to me, it is because he is an inconsiderate jerk.
If I snap at my spouse, it is because I have had a rough day, I’m tired and have a headache. If he does it to me, it is because he is a louse.
If I don’t speak to a brother when I walk in the meetinghouse door, it is because I have a lot on my mind and did not see him. If he does not speak to me, it is because he has something against me.
My opinion is carefully thought out and makes sense; yours is ridiculous—how can you possibly be so dumb?
Thinking and feeling inside out is hard to do. It takes work and thought, two things 21st century Americans try to avoid at all costs. Christians are supposed to be different. Oh the pain of learning to think like Christ, who counted not being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. But if he is my Lord, my seams and labels will show; everyone will know I belong to him. If they cannot tell, I have my religion on backwards!
If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, make full my joy, that you be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others, Phil 2:1-4.
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