Love the Ones You're With.
Updated: May 31, 2018
Community that changes lives begins when we learn to love those in front of us.
Community that changes lives begins when we learn to love those in front of us. We all have annoying habits, idiosyncrasies, personality differences, and weaknesses, that require patience with one another. And while we are certainly called to challenge and exhort one another in spiritual growth, we can’t force people to grow faster than the pace of the Holy Spirit’s work.
Truth + Grace + Time = Growth.
Patience is critical. Exercise patience with one another by getting to know someone's story (the present always makes more sense in light of the past).
Give the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume malicious intent in the case of an offense or annoyance.
Encourage instead of criticize.
Learn to love the people in front of you with honesty. The Bible tells us to speak truth to one another in love and Galatians 6:1 tells us to gently restore a someone who is in sin. This doesn’t mean forcing our convictions in peripheral gray areas on others, or confronting somebody over every petty little thing. But it does mean confronting those who have sinned against us and hurt us, and those we see living in unhealthy patterns. When doing so, pray before you go, choose the timing and your words wisely, and approach with gentleness.
Be vulnerable. We all need a small group of folks around us with whom we can share more deeply. We can’t love the real you if we don’t know the real you. And we can’t support one another if we don’t know what’s going on inside.
Be a safe place for someone to turn to. Learn to love the people in front of you by being trustworthy. When somebody tells you something personal, we need to be trusted to keep it to ourselves. Also, we build trust with gentle responses to shocking and hard truths. You don’t have to know what to say. You can always respond, “I don’t know what to say, but thank you for trusting me. I’m here to listen.”
Offer correction with grace and gentleness so as to edify and restore and not push away.
Be intentional and consistent. Hebrews 10:25 says, "do not neglect meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another."
If God’s plan is to restore the world through a people united in Christ, one of Satan’s greatest tactics is to keep us fragmented.
We can’t love one another with humility, patience, honesty, grace, and trustworthiness, if our lives are not actually intersecting. Life happens. Work, illness, vacation, totally legit. But, if church is the thing we do when we feel like it or we don’t have anything better to do that day, I want to challenge you. It’s not about being committed to a religious ritual, but to the people of God that gather for mutual edification and God’s glory. Real community forms over time as we share life rhythms and experiences together, sharing trials and victories, fun and laughter, and pursuing Christ and the advancement of His kingdom together.
I challenge you to prioritize Sunday worship and to think about what you are doing already (prayer, study, eating, recreation, errands, etc.) and ask someone else to join you.