Monday, January 20, 2014

Love One Another - Part IV

Love One Another is a series of blogs that I began developing back in November. I took a break during Advent to focus my writing on the themes of the season in a series called Advent Reflections. In the beginning of this endeavor, I simply began asking various people to express what it personally meant to them to "love one another" (John 13:34) in 2-3 sentences. My intention was not to encourage deep theological dissertations or even much contemplative thought. I simply wanted to find out what people thought in a more off-the-cuff manner. I asked a wide and varied group of people from well known Christian leaders, authors and speakers to everyday folks that I know in my community. The response was so positive that what started out as a single blog entry has now become a series of blogs including one video post by The Whiskey Preacher, Phil Shepherd.  

As we journey through the landscape that is our lives, we run across more than our share of opportunities to love one another. Even to those that we have no communication with, simply by a smile or eye contact, we have the ability to reflect love. Love is much more than an action or decision to love. Love is an all-encompassing emotion that transcends how we feel, what we do or what circumstances surround us. When we reflect on what love really is, we see that it is an emotion that involves much more than any other emotion. In fact, one could even venture to say that love is more than a sentiment, but a supernatural occurrence that frees us from the restraints of human emotion.

As we begin the New Year, let us be reminded that when we love one another, we are not just expressing a simple human emotion to the world around us; we are expressing the very existence of God in this world and His unending love made evident through Christ.

Meet the contributors for Love One Another - Part IV:

"Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, which is no small thing. But the fragmentation of North American culture has made it difficult for most of us to even know our neighbors. "Love one another," it seems to me, is a call to be the sort of community where people can know one another. And that means sticking around, even with those people who bore you or annoy you or enrage you. This is not possible without forgiveness, which is why we cannot love one another without a strength that comes from beyond us."

- Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Jonathan is Co-author of the celebrated Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, and author of several books on Christian spirituality, including The Awakening of Hope, The Wisdom of Stability, and The New Monasticism. He is founder of Rutba House in Durham, North Carolina, where formerly homeless are welcomed into a community that eats, prays, and shares life together. Jonathan is also Director of The School of Conversion, a nonprofit organization that educates people in Christian community, and Associate Minister at the historically African American St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church.

“I always liked this Thomas Merton quote: “The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”

- Michael Gienger
Michael is Director of Youth and Impact Ministries at The Watershed Church in League City, Texas  and an MDiv student at Perkins School of Theology. He is also the founder of EXIT39 , an intensive poverty simulation ministry, educating others to the plight of the poor and powerless in American culture.     

"I think Jesus said it best: "Treat people the same way you want them to treat you" Matthew 7:12, and "Do not judge, and you will not be judged" Luke 6:37. Even with people we dearly love, at times that's a real stretch, and with irritating or hostile people, it's practically impossible. Here's the key: "The things that are impossible with people are possible with God" Luke 18:27”

- Joy Wilson
Joy is a freelance writer and author of Uncensorded Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling with God. You can get to know more about Joy at her personal blog: Solacetree   

“To love means to listen; to sit down with a person and hear their story - not with a dispassionate demeanor and a subjective viewpoint; not with a pre-planned rebuttal nor an agenda - but to listen with your full presence and an unguarded heart. This allows for sometimes shocking and scandalous affection, which I believe is a part of our spiritual nature, to be nourished and grow. Once you know someone’s story - and by ‘know’ I mean that it touches your core beyond what your belief system thought possible - then judgments fade, walls crumble, and you begin to find yourself in love.” 

– Chad Estes
Chad is a former pastor who works with people to help share their redemptive stories through the art of photography and writing. You can find his blog at
and more of his work at

"Love is knowing someone cares about you even when you aren't doing the very best you can do. Love is the struggle to rise to the occasion in yourself...for others."

 – Gene Anderson 
Gene Anderson is a middle school STEM instructor, a sometime preacher, and an all the time djembefola. He is also an ordained pastor, has spent time in the US Army, cooked an awful lot of food in various restaurants, and once hitchhiked across the United States. He loves books and cheesecake, though not necessarily in that order."


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