Embracing Community: Ubuntu

A friend emailed me this message below, which, as it turns out, was a Facebook post. Even though I cannot qualify the validity of the story, the concept is, nonetheless, of value for those wanting to follow Jesus.


An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ”UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”



The example of love from Scripture is that of Jesus laying down his life for the salvation of humanity. I recently heard a definition of love as an action. “I’ll act for your highest good, regardless of myself.” In our altruistic, binary, either/or culture, this definition makes sense. But, I think we can learn a thing or two from our African brothers.


Ubuntu. I am because we are.


Jesus told us to love our neighbor as our selves. Maybe we should act for the highest good of my neighbor as I would want to be loved. Instead trying to divorce ourselves from the equation of love (which is impossible), let’s make it an integrated action, elevating our neighbor to the level in which we want to be loved. In a sense, both Jesus and the concept of ubuntu combat extreme selfishness and selflessness. Loving our neighbor as ourself can only take place in a community whose basis is mutuality, respect, and love. I am because we are, and we are because Christ is. May our love continue to grow as we follow in the ways of Jesus.


Grace and peace,


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