It’s incredible to me the directness of God’s calling to us to love one another. No conflicting message. No minced words. It is our clear instruction, the pure will of God in print in His word.
"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." 1 John 3:23
Hearing “love one another” as a “churched people” can sometimes be like the sound of the engine in your car. You hear it at first, but then you sort of tune it out as time goes on. It’s one of the things we begin to subconsciously ignore and stop acting on. “Sure, yes, love one another. Sounds good! What’s for dinner?”
These days, I drive a 1995 Teal Green Ford F150. Partly because it’s my favorite color, but mostly because the old engine and the creaking of the truck bed is so loud it keeps me in the moment. It’s obtrusive, everything about it is. And because of that, driving becomes more than just a point A to point B exercise. It becomes an experience all its own. There are bad days that turn to good ones when I hear a favorite song sound a little more rich through old speakers. Or when I get to enjoy the wind in my face because the air isn’t working. Yes, it means I’m inconvenienced sometimes. Yes, it means things take a little longer or are a little tougher to deal with. But there’s an intangible joy that doesn’t come in spite of the imperfections but because of them.
Sometimes that’s the same in our relationships. Doing things together, for each other, with each other can take more time. It can be harder in the moment, more conflict than we’d expect, more friction than we think we can tolerate. We shrink ourselves and play it safe so nothing is ever broken, no mistake is made and there’s no risk of offense. Removing these things, though, removes the ability for us to have that same depth of positive emotion. What if, like the truck, it is your quirks and creaks and “you-ness” that people around you thrive on? That’s what precipitates the thrill of connection and creates opportunities to experience that almost-cleansing feeling of a belly laugh. As Brene Brown says, “it’s hard to fully embrace and appreciate some else’s vulnerability if we’re not willing to be that vulnerable ourselves”. It is how connection is made. No one gets to be the hero, the one who helps but never needs help. There is only one who could fill those shoes.
What’s so interesting is at its root, it is our fear of being alone that fuels any type of guardedness. Like somehow at least we’re in control of our own rejection if we don’t ever show up to be accepted. I love what C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” Sometimes I wonder if God made grace because he knew his charge to us would require deep openness and our sinful natures would inevitably show. He knew we’d need it. To not be open and pursuing connection, even at the risk of loss and failure, would be to waste blood that was shed.
“But we are a colony of heaven on earth as we cling tightly to our life-giver, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20 TPT
The truck I drive was a gift from my dad and represents to me what it means to love and connect the way God intended. It is the symbol of reconciliation, joy, endurance, faithfulness, and love expecting nothing in return. What is your symbol? Think of something in your life that reminds you of all ways you are connected to the world around you and to people who need you as much as you need them.
Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for your sacrifice. Thank you for giving us everything we need to live out your calling on our lives. I pray you’d open our hearts to each other. Give us the confidence in our identity as your sons and daughters to pursue connectedness for our sake and for the sake of those around us. Any shame or fear of rejection has no power in your light. Your grace is enough for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.