8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9, CEB
As we continue to discuss hope and community and how these things work together, verse 9 in this passage starts to stand out in new ways. Paul encourages his readers to practice the things that they have seen on display in other people’s lives. He doesn’t tell them just to keep reading his letter and commit it to memory (though, of course, that would be a good practice too in its own way), but instead to take ownership over living life the way it’s been modeled by people who have been on the journey longer than they (the readers) have.
That’s essentially how this faith stuff works, isn’t it? We continue to learn from each other as we focus on the same things and pursue those things. It’s not just a matter of how long we’ve been at it or how much we know (or think we know). It’s about a day-in, day-out commitment to practicing faithful living. We look to each other for help in this. We’re not always going to be able to solve our problems on our own. We may need to reach out. And, our community won’t always have answers either. But there’s something special in knowing that we’re wrestling through these issues together, even when there isn’t a perfect answer to a given question. Sometimes we won’t get clarity and things won’t just “feel right” (I’ve often been told the Godly answer is the one that feels right. If this was true, the Godly answer would always be: more M&M’s.) But we don’t always need clarity. We need people to keep modeling for us and to help us keep modeling as we deal with life’s ambiguities.
Do you have those people in your life?