A few months ago, something strange happened on an airplane bound for Los Angeles. The actress Amy Adams was shooting a new film in Detroit, boarded the L.A.-bound plane and had settled into her first-class seat. That is when she noticed an American soldier being seated in coach. So, she decided to do something she had always thought about doing. Another first-class passenger, who happened to be a reporter, noticed Adams quietly ask the airline crew permission to switch seats with the soldier. Adams slipped back to coach, and the surprised soldier, who had no idea who was behind it, moved up to first class. When the plane landed in L.A., the reporter immediately started tweeting about Adams’ kind deed. When reporters asked Adams about it, she explained that her father was a serviceman and then she said, “I didn’t do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops.”
Isn’t that just a nice, heartwarming story? Journalists call this a “man bites dog story.” There are plenty of stories about dogs biting a man, but when a man bites a dog, now that’s special. But hearing about Amy Adams’ simple, kind gesture makes me wonder: Wouldn’t it be great if this happened all the time? Wouldn’t it be great if a whole community of people cared for each other in quiet but surprising ways like this? Wouldn’t it be great if in that community the strong cared for the weak? Wouldn’t it be great to belong to a community where people didn’t rank you by status—whether by race, class, wealth, beauty, or education?
According to Paul, there is a place like that, it is called the Church. It’s the community of people who profess to follow Jesus. It is the essence of Paul’s prayer to the people of Philippi, and to us. He prays that we will be that kind of church.
May your love increase endlessly, may you be so rooted in the love of God that everything you do is more and more saturated and marinated with your understanding of what it means to live out the love of God and to show it to those around you so that no one will stumble.