|San Xavier del Bac|
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others. Philippians 2:3-4This verse capsulizes the problem and opportunity for contemporary Christianity in America. No one can doubt that the earliest Christian communities as described in the New Testament took this message to heart. There was a fundamental and defining egalitarian spirit in those communities. Maximizing of self interest was seen as not only detrimental to the way of Christ but unalterably opposed to it.
Contemporary American Christianity, for the most part, enjoys a position as integral element in contemporary culture. Indeed, it often seeks to express this in political activism by allying itself with existing political parties and movements. In doing so, it run the risk of being co-opted by these political forces for their own purposes and goals. As a result, contemporary Christianity can lose its egalitarian soul while fighting for specific "ethical issues." Marriage equality and attitudes toward LGBT people are examples. It becomes very difficult for such Christianity to stand apart from a culture that prizes individual freedom and economic achievement over a more communitarian concern for others, especially those who "are not like us."
Even within the modern cacophony of America's media drenched culture, however, it is possible to find examples of individuals who took this scripture to heart and made it a guiding principle of their lives and the work of organization they led. Every time I go into a Wegman's, I see the words of Bob Wegman who took a single grocery store founded by his father and uncle and turned into a multi-store chain that is recognized as the top food retailer in the nation.
"Never think of yourself; always help others.”