‘We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.’ 1 John 4:19-21
There is a binding force that holds together the universe of sentient beings. Sentient beings are those that are conscious, they have a soul, a spirit, a thinking mind, and an emotional heart. Every person and every spirit is a part of that universe but some of us are clinging only very precariously to it. The universe of beings I’m referring to is held together by Relationship. It’s held together by intimate, personal, emotional, and communicative relationship. Inability to do intimate relationships perches us at the craggy edge of this universe. I’ll go so far as to say,
If you are non-relational or disconnected you are walking in constant disobedience to nearly every command of Scripture.
This statement is the core idea that has gripped me for the last two years or so. This truth has caused me to shed more tears over my past and make more changes for the future than any truth I’ve encountered since I first heard the Gospel. It seems that everything I had done until then had been skating across the surface of a vast and deep reservoir. I didn’t know it but it’s a reservoir that can’t be experienced until one decides to (or in my case, is compelled to by overwhelming outside forces) dive in and plummet headlong into its depths. I had been unwittingly playing at the intellectual shoreline of an abyss that required a full emotional and spiritual encounter to grasp its importance. About two years ago I was suddenly and unwillingly caught in an undertow that quickly corrected my perception of all that is relationship.
I say I was playing at the intellectual shoreline because nearly everything I wrote or thought before being dragged to the depths was a sparkling idyllic glimpse of the surface – not an impassioned exploration of the heart rending, often suffocating, but wondrously beautiful deeps. I read the Bible and believed that people are supposed to get along. I knew the Church was supposed to be one. I knew husbands were to love their wives, and fathers were to love their children, and good men were to befriend good men, etc., and I tried to practice it… without getting too attached.
Those of you who are relational may immediately react and say none of those things can be done if one is detached. Those of you who struggle with close relationships may not even flinch at the idea. Two years ago I didn’t know there was a difference.
What I’ve learned in the last two years cannot be unlearned. It was burned into me by a thousand needles stabbing constantly at every raw nerve of my soul. It was fused into my heart by the nuclear activity of the Spirit of God. It was as if an atomic chain reaction exploded in every vulnerable soul-cell to create some invincible recognition that God is all about relationship.
This realization changes everything for me. It changes the way I talk, the way I smile, the way I think, the way I pray, the way I see, the way I dream, the way I parent, the way I treat friends, the way I see the world, the way I walk with my Heavenly Father, and everything else. It also changes this blog. I realize now that the message and goal of the Church being ‘one’ can only happen as the Church becomes intimate with God and one another. Intimate relationships only happen as we stubbornly pursue one another.
The passage from 1 John above is proof positive of God’s mind about relationships. He says in effect, ‘Don’t tell me you love me if you are not loving your brothers.’ Note something here – love is not passive avoidance with a Sunday smile of greeting but active gritty involvement in making our brother’s life better. It’s, status quo be damned as a tool of the Devil, followed by a leap off the high dive into the deep end of someone’s heart. It’s blasting through the smog of Christian-ease to ask penetrating questions and reveal life-giving truth in love. Have you ever done that?
I was a Sunday ‘smiler’ for a long time. Not going deep. Not reaching out. Not feeling hurts not mine. Not weeping with those who weep or rejoicing with those who rejoice. Just smiling and keeping to myself. No longer. I’m involved now. I’m vulnerable and clear. I’m inquisitive and caring about my brother’s battles and benefits. I’m swimming in the deep waters of relationship and loving it.
I haven’t seen God but I’ve seen God in my brothers and sisters and I love them. God tells me that, as a result, I must love Him too. That thought makes my soul grin. Since I’m involved in the real reality of relationship now I think I have to change the direction of my writing a bit. I’m still passionate about he unity of the Church and the healing of her harms but I now know that healing and unity only come through the blood that courses through the veins of the Bible. Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds relationship. Test any passage. It’s about relationship, with God or with our fellow men, but either way it’s inescapable. Since God is all about relationship then I must be and I intend to be.
All this to say that from here I hope to expand my writing in this blog and other upcoming projects to be all about relationships, specifically intimate spiritual brother/sister relationships that reflect and amplify the heart of God. I hope to challenge every sincere Christian to leave the safety of his/her seaside cottage and dive into an ocean of connection that is sometimes tormented by angry waves of every kind and sometimes calm and placid like peace itself. Let’s prove we love God by swimming in the fragile ecosystems of our brother and sister’s hearts.
In light of all this I have to confess that I started something in this blog that I will finish elsewhere. I started a series about myself a little while ago and told you it would take some time to develop and there would be other posts interjected in between. I actually finished the series and it turned into a book length project that I believe will be very helpful to many. That means I’m not going to finish it here so I’m sorry if you were intrigued and now disappointed. If you will be patient I’ll keep you updated on how the project progresses and let you be first to know when it’s available.
Before I close I want to ask you, ‘Will you obey God by demanding intimacy with Him and your brothers and sisters?’ ‘Will you marshal your emotions, will, spirit, and mind and press them into relational service?’ ‘Will you obey the Spirit’s call to connect?’ Let me know if you need help – I’d love to chat.