Today we are asking the question what does it mean to be whole people in the presence of others. What does it mean to be shaped into wholeness, into the maturity, the fullness of who we are meant to be in the presence of other people? We know, when we've been alive long enough, that we cannot become whole people on our own, by ourselves, in solitude. In fact, if we make some simple observations about how we are shaped as people, we see that we are profoundly shaped by the larger social environments that we choose to participate in. So it's right and good for us to ask the question, how does personal transformation take place in a community, in the presence of others.
We're going to answer that question from John 13. But before we do that, I want to look at two different, highly impactful circles that have already shaped us, before we even came in this morning.
Circle of condemnation
The circle of condemnation is a social space where your flaws are noticed, picked apart, and pointed out by other people. Other people in the circle point out your flaws and weaknesses, not to help you out but to shame you, harass you, or try to change your behavior, try to get you to conform. When other people are able to find weaknesses in you, pick them out, call them out, it makes them feel better. Their ranking in the circle of condemnation goes up while yours goes down.
I'll tell you about a circle of condemnation I found myself in when I was around ten years old. I was in Little League. It was one of the first organized sports I'd ever played, and I wasn't very good. I didn't have strong athletic ability. I was smaller than most of the other people on the team and in the league at large. I was also learning the skills of baseball, ...
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