When I was a preteen, my best friend and I had our own Girl’s Club. While it was no more than a cleared space in the woods with sheet roof held up by a few sticks, it was our place to laugh, dream and ‘get away’ with ‘no boys allowed.’ But not to be outdone, the boys on our street had their own hideout… with equally restrictive gender rules. And mostly, we had fun and kept to ourselves.
Today, that same desire to have a separate time and space is all grown up and has birthed itself into elaborate Man Caves and She-Sheds. These distinct rooms and/or out-buildings are well-stocked, elaborately-decorated and electronically-enhanced to provide a snazzy place to retreat from the demands of work, home and relationships, providing a space for that all-important “me time.”
You know, we have a newly constructed shed in our back yard, but instead of calling it a Man Cave or a She-Shed, we’ve affectionately dubbed our building, the “We-Shed.” Ours isn’t so much a retreat space as it is a shared area for the paraphernalia necessary to accomplish our mutual projects.
While this cute name hasn’t led me to a post giving broad-brushed relationship advice, it has morphed into a more general reminder for believers, hoping to help adjust some cultural attitudes that are in conflict with biblical principles.
I realize that mostly the terms are word-play and clever turns of phrase, but with all the division and accusation going on in the world today, maybe what we need -especially in the church– is an attitude that guards against division. Maybe we need to eliminate a mindset that says, “my space,” “your space.” “my time,” “your money” and realize that as the body of Christ, we need to focus less on what we as individuals need or want and more on caring for those around us.
Instead of a ‘me-first’ mentality, Paul gives us a different view of the community of faith in Philippians 2. Verses 2-3 give us this directive “in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
If we really take this passage seriously, it becomes imperative that our priorities change and begin to move away from self-comfort. And as is always the case, Jesus is our best example. Verses 5-8 follow with an amazing and graphic portrayal of what it looks like to value someone more than yourself. Paul writes, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
There was never a point where Jesus said, “Hey, what about me?” or “It’s my turn now.” Instead, He essentially shelved everything that is rightfully His, so that He could come to earth and die on a cross for the sole purpose of having a relationship with you and me. He placed our well-being above His comfort, above His convenience, and above any self-interest.
Of course, human relationships are often difficult and require give and take to make them work, but when we learn to put others first and consider their needs before our own, we will find our connections with people becoming deeper and more satisfying than any ‘Me-Shed’ could ever be.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree with one another in what you say
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Cor. 1:10