The Strong Survive to Help the Weak
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. – Romans 15:1 (NIV)
The adage, “only the strong survive,” gives the impression that the future belongs only to a select few. This philosophy is so widely held that most of us today accept competition and the struggle for existence as part of our inherent human condition.
Unregulated capitalism is one of the many prevailing social systems perpetuated by principles that propagate the survival of the fittest. We even teach our children to compete at very young ages, insisting that they accept the reality of winners and losers in this dog-eat-dog world.
But communities built upon the principles of mutual service and reciprocity are organized much differently than communities ensconced in competition and individual struggle. In the New Testament church of Romans, a person’s strength was not measured by individual achievement but by community commitment.
The Lord of Lords who fills the needs of the poor, the weak, and the outcast is precisely what set the Christ community apart from the bastions of Roman imperialism.
Jesus’ majesty was demonstrated by his willingness to dwell among people of low estate. His power was manifested in his compassion for “the least of these.” His strength was demonstrated in his conscientious choice to bear a cross for sins that were not his own.
Could there be any better way to honor Jesus’ legacy and extend Jesus’ life than building a community that perpetuates his prototype? A community that elevates compassion over competition. A community that places greater value on self-sacrifice than self-aggrandizement. A community in which love of God and love of neighbor are at the apex of every individual and collective human achievement.
Lord, strengthen me to strengthen my church to be a change agent in this world. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Decatur, Georgia.