Monday, 5 January 2015
A new standard of love
We the called out ones, were formed in order to preserve and pass on the teachings of Christ--with the singular purpose of helping to bring people into the exact same relationship with God that Christ himself had, leading humanity into a space that is truly both "fully human and fully divine."
None of us can do what all of us are called to do together. I think words are important and the operative word for the church is together; love one another. Remember Jesus commission to the disciples? "You (all of you collectively) will be my witnesses" Acts 1:8. In our individualistic society we may overlook the fact that Jesus calls us collectively, he did not issue individual assignments. The sum of us will be his witnesses, since God is in his nature community He works in and through community. For that reason we will find no personal pronoun in the earliest description of the called out ones. Not I or my or you (singular), but together we are his body, his witnesses.
And yet we have difficulties to step back from the line in the sand we have grown up with, individualism. We can't let go of the small piece we have got hold of and we can't see the big picture, and perhaps even more annoying, we are not listening. The annoyance is not so much that another person has a different perspective on certain things, and therefore disagrees with us, but rather, that we are not listing to one another in the first place. Somehow we have bought into the idea that listening to another viewpoint is giving automatically full legitimacy and therefore giving up our own. Perspective-taking and therefore listening and learning, getting to know the other is one of the most important relationship skills we can ever develop. When we are completely absorbed by our own vision, agenda, issue, cause, interests and preference, we obviously will not benefit from the gift the other person is to me. Perspective-taking moves us away from an anemic understanding, seeing through a glass dimly, to a clearer picture of reality.
We are a collection of differences and only differences make for unity. What if we would be a collection of hands, how would we function, what would we actually been doing? We cannot say to each others differences, "I have no need of you." The visionaries (eyes?) need the prayers (knees?) We cannot base our cooperation on being alike or that we like one another for what we get out of the relationship. We are called to love one another for the sake of the world.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about any- thing they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” Matt 18:19-20 (cf. Jh 14:13). This is an astounding promise as well as incredible challenge because we have to die to our individual ideas, hopes, dreams, and opinions. And yet we are divided by an array of differences, personal history, traditions (we seldom have actually investigated), and rather than love we have made unanimity a hallmark for unity.
Our common ground is solely in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Our common ground can not be as flimsy as common likes like cloth, music, or even likes of one another. It may help but it is a flimsy ground to built on. In fact how can you like someone like Adolph Hitler, and yet Christ gave His life for him us well. It is not for a lack of sacrificial love on God's side for his creation, a lack of solid foundation, but because the way people have continued to built on it.
The early followers of Jesus did chose Jesus as the foundation and continued to build on Him. In Christ they found a new belonging, a new culture, a new standard of what it means to love. And because of that they overcame an array of differences, and because they did, my life, our lives were changed.
And as you and I do, and come together in prayer, the same will happen.