Philippians 2:1-5 NLV: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
Imagine going from one culture where you have lived for a length of time, then transition back to where you lived before. This is the re-entry experience. For my family, as international workers (IW), it was always challenging going from four years in Bosnia living in Eastern Europe to coming home for a year to reconnect with family and supporting churches. We found that people and systems had changed a lot in that time. For us, it was easy to focus on our own feelings and perceptions with all that was newly different to us. Any of our Appleton Alliance workers serving around the world experience “re-entry” both in returning to the States or going back to their country of service, after being away a while. This is a very challenging time for an IW. A key to surviving this is realizing we belong to Christ, which means our focus is his focus. The beginning of Philippians chapter two helps us to understand what that focus is and how to take that focus and relate to those around us.
I have heard the word “re-entry” used to describe what we all are going through with the COVID-19 pandemic changing our lives, globally and locally. We can see on social media and on the news how quickly people are getting upset with each other over the wearing of masks, as only one example. It is a time of “re-entry” into a new world Just as an IW coming home to a very different United States, we can be easily focused on our needs coming out of the Stay-at-Home Order, which is a normal reaction, or we can do what was mentioned above as the key to any IW’s survival, which is the community of Christ in unified action as described in Philippians 2. Let’s come together and live like Christ in unity to serve and impact the world around us for God’s glory!