Thursday, June 14, 2012


I have often reflected on the great risks of love and authentic community.  Love is not something we enter into lightly, but requires much responsibility, as does real community with one another.  Love is a risk because with the great blessings of love, also comes the potential of great pain.  When we love each other in complete fullness, we expose our fragile hearts to the world, much like a dandelion, brittle and vulnerable, risking destruction by a sudden gust of unexpected wind.  The question we ask ourselves then is, “Is it worth it?”  From my experience, and as with Christ as our example, I would have to say undoubtedly and without hesitation, “Yes!”  The intoxicating blessings of love far outweigh the potential pain that may come and the regret that would come from never loving.  

As we love one another, we realize that love is not always about what we feel; specifically feeling good.  There is a huge difference from “loving” someone and “liking” someone.  If we “like” the person we love, the blessings are increased, but much of the time, that is not our call.  We are commanded by Christ to “love one another” (John 13:34-35), but we are never called to “like” one another.  In many ways, love is tied to the concepts of repentance discussed in the previous blog.  Love comes from a commitment and devotion to the other person because they deserve our love.  Being created in God’s image, each human being deserves love, not because of what they do or do not do, but because of who they are.  In some circumstances, loving one another has nothing to do with emotions.  Can we dislike someone, and yet still genuinely love them?  I think the answer is yes.  And we experience this in real Christian community.      

I often imagine the relationship between the disciples and how they may have felt about one another.  For example, imagine the possible interactions of Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector.  Both men were called to love each other, but it is doubtful that they “liked” each other or got along very well.  Image the heated dialogues that may have arisen between a man that once believed in overthrowing the Roman yoke of oppression through violence and death, and a man that supported Rome’s extortion of the Jews.  Both men had left their previous lives in order to follow Christ, but there is no doubt that baggage came with each.  Can you imagine Simon crying out in frustration, “Why is this scumbag among us!  He’s one of them!  He betrayed God’s people!”  And when Jesus taught on loving your enemy, could Matthew have interrupted and shouted at Simon, “I’m pretty sure that includes not killing them!”  But both men loved each other, because the bond that brought them together in community was supernatural and transcended the divisions.

And that’s what we ultimately come to.  Love is supernatural.  Love transcends all barriers and areas of division and unites one to another in a way that we sometimes do not comprehend.  I think it is no coincidence that love remains the simplest, and yet most powerful attribute of God.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  Is it possible that when we love one another, we are revealing God in His most essential form, when we love one another?  Is it possible that when love is revealed, even outside of the Christian faith, that others are seeing a glimpse of God that may eventually draw them to Him?  Is it a coincidence that love is the one emotion that encapsulates all feelings that humans can experience, all at the same time?
Although bound by a supernatural union, community has the power to transcend the culture around us through it's simplicity.  Corinthians 13: 13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”   Community is simple.  It is rooted in the essential love of God, and through our faith in God, we build hope for the future.  Through our love for one another, God is manifest in our presence.  I often wonder that if we want more of God, and more of Christ’s presence working in our midst, perhaps we should first focus on loving one another more.       

I see community as being somewhat like a mosaic;  A vast array of personalities, woven together by a common thread, that being Christ.  If viewed from afar, it is easy to see the image and the beauty that it demands.  It appears as one complete image, without division or breaks in flow.  But when one looks closer and deeper into the mosaic, it is easy to see that the unity of the image is created by many imperfect and quite unassuming tiles.  There is nothing special about each one, although each is unique.  And consider this.  If one single tile falls out of place, the entire mosaic image is flawed.  The missing piece will leave a blank space in its absence, thus distorting the entire image.  The presence of that one tile is not necessarily recognized, but if it is removed, the disunity is apparent.  

Christian community is unique in that the unity we witness comes from Christ being at the center of all we do.  In essence, He is the only unifying factor that binds us in community.  He remains the center, while all other aspects fade in importance. And because of this, being part of community is essential in terms of our spiritual growth.  We need the supernatural unity of Christian community, especially those that share a common vision of life and God's Kingdom.  It is exciting to be part of a community that is bigger than ourselves.  Community opens new doors of possibility and when that happens, we see the Kingdom of God realized just a little more than before.  When we open our vision to new and different community, we pull back the shade just a bit more so that the world can see His Kingdom in its essence and fullness.     

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