Emotionally Healthy Christians – Social Awareness

“God knows people’s hearts, and He confirmed that He accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for He cleansed their hearts through faith.” – Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭15:8-9 ‭NLT‬‬
Empathy and acceptance are key factors in growing as a mature Christian. Some are given the spiritual gift of “mercy” and are inclined toward empathy. Others develop social awareness over time as we mature in our faith. “To be empathetic means we are able to identify and understand others’ emotions i.e. imagining ourselves in someone else’s position.” (Wikipedia) 
Some of the benefits of social awareness or empathy helps us with an understanding of how an individual feels and why they behave in a certain way. As a result, our compassion and our ability to help someone increases because we respond genuinely to concerns. Being empathetic shows those around us that we care. It is a great Christian witness to our love of God and others. Peter in this passage of Scripture is sharing with the leaders of the church the importance of empathizing with non-Jewish believers. For example, an adult male probably is not excited about joining a faith where they need to be circumcised. Peter helps the Jews understand God does not want to place additional burdens on new believers. 
Here are some practical tips to help us grow in social awareness or empathy:
  1. Practice listening to family members, friends, and fellow employees without interrupting them.
  2. Observe those around us and try to gauge how they might be feeling.
  3. Seek first to understand then be understood.
  4. To communicate our empathy we should keep our body language open and regulate our voice to show our sincerity.
Come join us this Sunday as we learn more about how to grow in faith and awareness of those around us.

Questions To Consider:

  1. Why do you think there were tensions in the early church between Jews and Gentiles? How were they resolved?
  1. What are some tensions in the church today? How do you feel they can best be resolved?
  1. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate yourself on social awareness? 
  1. Of the four tips for growth, which one would you like to work on this week? 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn