|Purple field, in Monroe County|
At the top of my prayer petitions for myself is: "God, increase your love in me for others, even for those who may not like me, even for those who despise and dismiss me." I would not be praying for this if I already had it.
I knew a man who dismissed the whole idea of "church." He went from church to church, finally to leave them all. He thought he was a Christian. He refused to coexist with other people. He missed the very heart of Christianity.
Jesus comes to build community. The notion of the isolated, solitary "Christian" is non-Hebraic. The core of the Jesus-community is love, and love is relational. There is no love without the other. The problem here is that you and I are "the other," and I am to love you, and you are to love me. Something great and deep and wide and high and long is formed in us as we learn to do this.
This is the greatest challenge of the church; viz., to love one another as He has loved us. This is the mark of the true church, and a sign to this loveless world. People should look at the church and say, "See how they love one another." People should look at you and say, "Look how _______ loves others."
Henri Nouwen wrote:
"Community is not easy. Parker Palmer once observed that community is the “place where the person you least want to live with always lives.” In Jesus’ community of twelve disciples, the last name was that of someone who was going to betray him (Luke 6:13-16). That person is always in our community somewhere. In the eyes of others, we might be that person." (Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living, p. 20)
I am praying for Christ's love to be more deeply formed in me.