David Nii, Council of Twelve Apostles
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 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 13:31-35
I wrestle with the comparison of a faith community being “just like family.” The analogy of parental and sibling love can be a way to envision unconditional grace. But I often see the reality of family life being something different from what I long to experience in healthy faith communities. Admirable faith communities are groups not exclusive to outsiders, locked in stereotypes, nor held together through obligation.
Our call to Christ’s peaceable reign is an invitation to have compassion toward others, regardless of looks, language, background, talents, wealth, thoughts, and actions. Striving to be as inclusive as our human capacity allows is how we attempt to love as Jesus loved. Receiving one another in healthy, inclusive relationships allows us to examine others’ ideas, as well as our own ideas, without feeling threatened or persecuted. Not being locked into stereotypes frees us to explore new ways to live with joy and passion. Being comfortable but also expecting something new to be part of our common experience are reminders of the Spirit’s unending call and encouragement.
The ideals for a faith community are best experienced when I understand them to be the same ideals for the larger community and the world. A healthy community is a space where our honest, yet respectful, relationships are valued above determining who is right and who is wrong. A healthy community has a culture in which the welfare of individuals is inseparable from the welfare of everyone. The community’s call to love as Christ loves is a challenge to be vulnerable and interdependent with one another as we grow in mind, heart, and spirit. I think the comparison is backward-strong families should be described as “just like a healthy faith community.”
“The glory of God is the human person fully alive” (St. Irenaeus).
Enter a time of prayer and hold St. Irenaeus’ quote in your heart. How do your mind, body, heart, and soul work together for your aliveness in God each day? What does it mean in your life and ministry that God desires for each of us to be fully alive?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.