First of all, I am a Red Sox fan. Even as I type this, I am wearing my Boston hat; after all, it’s all even again. But last night I sat in solidarity with many of my friends who are diehard Cubs fans who know what heartache feels like (to my Cleveland friends, my sympathies). Last night I found myself sitting on pins and needles as the game was tied up in the bottom of the 8th inning. Then I rolled my eyes as they rolled the tarp onto the field for a rain delay after the 9th inning. And then I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief for my Chicago friends as I refreshed my screen in my bed just before midnight. This morning I reveled in their celebratory posts and jubilations all over the internet. Knowing the feeling I had in 2004, I can only imagine the excitement that is pouring out of them today. And so this morning I celebrate with them.
Empathy is a funny emotion. Empathy is defined as, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. Some would even argue that this is a distinctively human trait, although I know some dog owners who might take this to task. But empathy is something that ties the human experience together. We seek to understand and relate to each other based on common experiences and feelings or emotions. Most often empathy is though of in terms of loss or grief, but it is meant to be shared in other experiences as well. When addressing the church in Rome, Paul says this, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” – Romans 12:15. This does include feelings of sadness, but it also includes feelings of celebration and rejoicing.
The funny thing is, sometimes we aren’t that good at this. It’s almost easier to see the other guy lose when we don’t feel like we don’t measure up. I’ve even heard of churches being jealous of other churches success?!? “Well they aren’t staying true to the call.” “They aren’t holding true to doctrine like we are”. How about instead of criticizing we get excited about the fact that more people are hearing about Jesus. How about instead of refusing to celebrate their success we get on board trusting the Holy Spirit to do the work that was promised. How about we celebrate and rejoice with any success and excitement we see in the Kingdom of God because we are all in this together. You may not have been excited about the Cubs winning last night, but I think we are all called to get excited about the Kingdom successes of our sisters and brothers even when they don’t look quite like we think they should. Let’s trust God and rejoice with each other!