We Are All in This Together

Four years ago this month we had an energy crisis in Nashville, TN, that showed how we are all in this together and that life works better when we live in harmony with the Triune Life of God.

On a Friday morning a rumor spread that all the gas stations in town would soon be out of fuel. The result was a panic and a rush on the pumps that resulted in 85% of the stations in town running out of gas. Most of the experts said that if people had only filled up if they really needed to (instead of topping off), and taken only what they needed for the next few days, there would have been plenty of fuel to go around. Instead we witnessed some people filling up when they only needed a little bit, plus filling cans with any extra they could carry, while those who were truly out of gas ran out as they were waiting in line. Lines at the few stations with fuel backed up for as much as two hours. In one place I counted almost 100 cars in line for gas.

The gospel tells us that Jesus is humanity’s adoption into the life he shares with the Father and the Spirit (Eph. 1:5). In Jesus there is now one new humanity composed of all people, without regard to race or religion (Eph. 2:14-15). In Jesus we are included in the Divine, Trinitarian life that is a social life of mutually sharing all things. (The Church Fathers called it “perichoresis”.) Our lives work much better when we are in harmony with this Divine reality of mutual sharing. We witnessed the truth of this reality in Nashville in a backwards way that weekend. Instead of living like the Trinity in whom we exist – by being careful to care more for others than ourselves – we ended up making the whole situation much worse by our selfishness.

I see an analogy in Nashville’s experience and the debates that American society is engaged in about our future and what kind of society we aspire to be. America is a nation of rugged individualism – and there is a great strength in that. But there is an eternal wisdom in knowing that we are all in this together. There is Divine strength in making decisions about our society – our families, our corporations, our government, and our churches – based on the reality to which the Holy Spirit is calling us: the reality that we are all in this together, the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the whole human race. Our society will be stronger the more  we believe this truth and start treating each other accordingly.

~ Jonathan Stepp

3 comments so far

  1. Jerome Ellard on

    Amen, Jonathan. I see the healthy families and congregations as a reflections of and participation in the Triune God’s caring ways. I think the political debate in our country today is not pitting genorosity versus selfishness so much, but rather, differing visions of how best to help people. Hope everything is well with you and your family in North Carolina!

  2. Jerome Ellard on

    Sorry for my poor grammar above! I was editing on the fly and not re-reading enough…

  3. Jonathan Stepp on

    I agree, I think the political debate is, for the most part, about the best methods to use. I think of it in this way: as Christians we have a duty to work for a society in which we are including and taking care of everyone and to advocate for those who are in the greatest need. The best political method by which to fulfill these duties is a matter of debate on which we won’t always agree. So, the question I think we as Christians have to ask about any political proposal is this: “will what the candidate is proposing improve our society’s ability to take care of each other?” Again, we will often come to different answers on that question as well, but I believe we’ve done our “due diligence” if we’ve studied the proposals put forward and are convinced that the political positions we support will make our society more inclusive and a place where we are doing a better job of taking care of each other.
    We are doing well here in N.C., thanks for all your prayers as we made the transition!

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