Life can be hard. Life together can be harder.
I sound double minded, I know. But I’m betting you can nod your head at both statements.
Life can be good. We can know a sense of joy and peace within that passes understanding. We also know that sharing life with others is better than always being alone. It’s good to have people around you to hold you up and walk with you.
We benefit by having those people around us because sometimes life is hard – internal struggles and anxieties creep in. Illnesses, job situations, money struggles – these are all things that can make life difficult. Oh, I forgot to mention relationships. Life together. That can be hard as well. Sure it’s good to have people around you, but what do you do when people are the problem? What do you do when you have differences of opinion and differing priorities?
Life together can be good. It can also be a real challenge. So it helps to remember what Jesus said about how others will see us as witnesses to his love and grace. He didn’t say, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you plan your life together.” He did not say, “They will know you are my followers by the way you are all of one mind without any disagreement or difference of opinion.” No, he said this as a command, which would be a sign to others around us:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
(John 13:34-35 NRSV)
Love one another. In spite of your differences, in the midst of the good times and the bad times, whether you agree or disagree, love one another just as Jesus loves.
Therein lies the key to life together. Love.
But what is love? Well, love is TIME spent intentionally with others just to be with them. While it’s easy to spend time with the people we like and know well, it takes more effort to give our time to others to whom God has connected us (I am thinking specifically of the local church and small groups). Love is GENEROSITY. Not only do we give our time to others, but we give them our best efforts and we give them time we could spend doing other things. Love is LISTENING. I hate even putting that one down because this is where I find myself least loving. I don’t always listen well.
I’m sure you can add your own ideas to this list. But let me offer a challenge to you as you do – who are the people, the other followers of Jesus Christ with whom God has called you to live together in love? How are you spending time with other believers? How is your love for them a witness to the world of how love can happen even among people of different stripes, different ethnicities, and differing political opinions? That’s the witness I think the world needs most.
Life together – it is good, it is hard, it is the way God helps others see the truth and the possibilities of His love and grace.
That’s my musing for this Monday.
Holy high-five to you,