I read Philippians 2:1-11 with my kids today. We talked about choosing to honor and give preference to one another before ourselves. We marveled at how Jesus, God Himself, became a servant and realized that if He did that, then we, His children, ought to take that position as well (instead of grabbing for God’s position!) A favorite saying around our house is “Love is better than fair!” And the other day we talked about how the one thing David and I know for sure is that God will ALWAYS give us the ability to love someone else. (Now…to put that into practice in the sibling relationship!!)
Then I read most of Ephesians 4 as I sat on my porch and enjoyed a cup of coffee. The words that came to mind were UNITY and ONE ANOTHER.
And then I read this from Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth: (it is long, so if you don’t like lots of words….skip this)
A community is only truly a body when the majority of its members is making the transition from ‘the community for myself’ to ‘myself for the community’, when each person’s heart is opening to all the others, without any exception. This is the movement from egoism to love, from death to resurrection; it is the Easter….It is also the passing from a land of slavery to a promised land, the land of inner freedom.
A community isn’t just a place where people live under the same roof; that is a lodging house or an hotel. Nor is a community a work-team…It is a place where everyone – or, let’s be realistic, the majority!- is emerging from the shadows of egocentricity to the light of a real love.
Love is neither sentimental nor a passing emotion. It is the recognition of a covenant, of a mutual belonging. It is listening to others, being concerened for them and feeling empathy with them. It is to see their beauty and to reveal it to them.
It means answering their call and their deepest needs. It means feeling and suffering with them – weeping when they weep, rejoicing when they rejoice. Loving people means being happy when they are there, sad when they are not. It is living in each other, taking refuge in each other. “Love is a power for unity”, says Denys the Areopagite. And if loves means moving towards each other, it also and above allmeans moving together in the same direction, hoping and wishing for the same things. Love means sharing the same vision and the same ideal. So it means wanting others to fulfil themselves, according to God’s plan and in service to other people. It means wanting them to be faithful to their own calling, free to love in all the dimensions of their being….
It takes time for a heart to make this passage from egoism to love, from ‘the community for myself’ to ‘myself for the community’, and to the community for God and those in need. It takes time and much purification, and constant deaths which bring new resurrections. To love, we must die continually to our own ideas, our own susceptibilities, and our own comfort. The path of love is woven of sacrifice. The roots of egoism are deep…
Jesus promised to send us His Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to infuse us with this new energy, this strength, this quality of heart which will make it possible for us truly to welcom the other – even our enemy – as he or she is, possible for us to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things. Learning to love takes a lifetime, because the Holy Spirit must penetrate even the smallest corners of our being, all the places where there are fears, defences and envy.
Oh, Lord…teach me to love. Not how people around me use the word, but what YOU mean when You say love!!