I am one of those people who seem to have a lot of experiences in life. The really good ones have been incredible. The less than good ones have been incredibly bad.
In the early years of being a Christian, I had some ‘friend’ challenges. Actually, at one point I took stock of those whom I loved and trusted. I felt that most of my close friends, in some way – many in significant ways, had betrayed me. I was in crisis. I was angry and hurt. To deal with things, there seemed to be some simple choices. I could do what I observed many around me do. I could become hard, jaded and cynical. Or, I could choose a different path, a path of obedience: to love regardless of the cost. I saw the two paths clearly. The hardened path would provide some shelter but choosing to not close off myself off would certainly guarantee more heartache.
As believers, our job is clear. It is to love people. We love others not because God will punish us. That idea reminds me of the saying, “The firings will continue until moral improves!” Forced, mechanical actions are hardly what we could call love. As believers, we don’t love people because they love us – often they don’t! And we don’t love others because we will ‘get’ something in return – there are no guarantees. Actually, for the most part, there is little true ‘love’ in our hearts for people who don’t love us. Then something incredible happens – God loves us and pours His into us – that love overflows to others! That is real love!
Unlike the earlier and difficult era of life, I now experience love from so many other believes. When I look at each person who is pouring out love to me, I do not put them on a pedestal, but realize that God is loving me through them! I am surrounded by Christian friends who love me!!! I am overwhelmed by their acts of love and service. It is like looking in a mirror – to the extent that there was pain in the past, to that extent there is joy today. Ahhh… life is full of surprises!
I realize that the love I receive from them is really God’s love flowing through them. He brought us together for His purpose, to work together on his plan – to work corporately. He spoke to many separately about parts of a puzzle that fit together in amazing and unexpected ways. That is a whole story, certainly worth telling, but beyond the scope of this writing. God’s love is flowing back and forth through a whole community of people. I have never experienced anything like it before. It’s like electricity: tingly, mildly shocking, unexpected and glorious.
But my heart is protected like never before. Why? When you get more than one person together – some things are guaranteed. You will be hurt. You will hurt others. I dropped the ball early last week – I hurt someone. That hurt was my fault. The grace and forgiveness that restored things came from Him. And, then the other day, I was the receiver of a great deal of unpleasantness. It was the ability to look at things clearly… this is Truth, and to take responsibility for the things done wrong and then wash them away with forgiveness… this is Grace that allowed complete restoration. Truth and Grace are at work - they are the glue that holds us together! Grace and Truth are the same things that keep us in proper, loving relationship with God.
Do you know that the word community has the root concept of common union, communion? Perhaps this is the deepest need of our human hearts – to have a common union with others and with God. It is in authentic, godly community that this cry is answered. It is answered in ways that for many years I only imagined. Now I experience the reality. I am deeply grateful.
Friends, I see His face in you! http://bit.ly/iBB0