I struggle with wanting to give in to our society’s endorsement of individualism. My natural tendency is to make life about me and my tidy comfort zone. Maybe you do too.
Expressing love from a distance is oodles easier and less awkward than responding to up-close and personal opportunities to reach out to others. You with me?
Here’s the scene in Matthew, Chapter 22. An expert in the law posed this question Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Relationship with God is number one. But Jesus didn’t stop at a loving relationship with God.
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
There we have a foundation for everything—all—we do. Love the Lord our God and love our neighbor. “Love others as well as you love yourself,” is the way the second greatest commandment reads in The Message.
The list of synonyms for love include “feel affection for,” “be devoted to,” and “care for.”
Whether we have a healthy self-image or not, even if today you and I can only name things we don’t like about ourselves, we still look out for ourselves—meet our needs and care about our comfort.
Okay, so what does loving others as we love ourselves look like?
We donate blankets to the homeless shelter and canned goods to the food bank. We pack Christmas boxes of hygiene and personal items for children around the world. We purchase goats or chickens for needy families in Uganda.
All these good acts express love for my neighbors.
Some of our neighbors.
What about the woman seated alone on the far side of the sanctuary or even the woman who sits in front of me at the Sunday service? Week after week.
My natural way of thinking focuses on differences. What I don’t have in common. What I can’t relate to. What the neighbors I reach out to might think of me.
But not God. His thoughts and ways are higher. He’s all about connection points.
Living connected to others is an echo of God’s command for us to love one another as He loves us. It’s a call to action—one meant to invigorate hearts and enrich lives, including our own.Living connected to others is an echo of God’s command for us to love one another as He loves us. Click To Tweet
By God’s design, there is more to living in community than a polite hello. Fine. Thank you.By God’s design, there is more to living in community than a polite hello. Fine. Thank you. Click To Tweet
BAG OF MARBLES?
To find me during recess as a third and fourth grader, look for the circle of mostly boys. You’d spot me crouched in the dirt shooting marbles, poised to knock an opponent’s marble out of the ring.
Recently, one of our pastors stood on the stage holding up a bag of marbles. The clink and tink of rounded glass against rounded glass took me back to my grade school playground. Matt Shires labeled the bag of marbles as an illustration of a unique collection of individuals.
I’m a visual learner who appreciates a good object lesson, so I’m running with the analogy. I could trade a steelie for a cat eye. The marble’s absence wouldn’t make any difference to the rest of the marbles. If I were to take a hammer and smash a marble to bits, its disintegration wouldn’t impact the other marbles.
Dump the contents of the bag in the dirt, and the marbles will roll helter-skelter away from one another.
The individual marbles while in a bag are in proximity to one another, but not much else connects them. The marbles can exist in the bag and look like the others, but function as detached, independent units that don’t affect or influence the others.
CLUSTER OF GRAPES?
Unique individuals also make up a cluster of grapes. The difference is the grapes are not detached but connected to one another. Grapes on a vine share the same source of life and nourishment.
If we are a follower of Jesus, we are called to live connected like grapes dependent on the same source of life.If we are a follower of Jesus, we are called to live connected like grapes dependent on the same source of life. Click To Tweet
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but encourage one another—
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
This week at church, introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
Ask an acquaintance how her week went.
Offer to pray with a woman who is going through a tough time.
Thanks for joining me here, friend.
Hugs and smiles,
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