19. And it is through these groupings we come to embody the love of Christ in ourselves.
Our culture gives us a false impression that we can do life alone. And our churches give us the same false impression about life and much more. It often teaches us that love of God is all that matters without love of neighbor. Or that believing the “right” things about God will make us right with God.
I hope you know that isn’t really true. That God’s love is our substance. That God is love and we are made in the image of God. We reflect that love in every fiber of our being. And Jesus reminds us that God loves us and our mission in the world is to share that love with other people!
I feel like I have to shout those words, we so ignore them! The Great Commission proves an individualistic faith is a selfish faith, because the point is about being with them, not notching another win on the score card.
God is all about community. God’s very nature is community. So it’s long past time we tend to our understanding of how we relate to God. That the singularity and community of God should be reflected in us. In our churches and in ourselves.
[An excellent resource for this is Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell’s book,
The Divine Dance. I highly recommend it.]
Finding life with others
Rebalancing the individual and the community in our lives is the only way the individual can thrive. This isn’t so much taking up altruism to satisfy your greed as it is seeing I can’t win when you lose.
We see this in Jesus’s conviction that we serve one another and in the natural world. But the best example we have is found in game theory. We have found the best way to win is to ensure that your neighbor wins too.
But we can’t just be in it for ourselves. The selfish argument for altruism doesn’t work, no matter how much Ayn Rand wants you to think it. We can’t try to win this way. Life proves the opposite. We don’t give so that we get something out of it. It never works. We end up stingy and bitter. We attach strings and refuse to let go.
However, when we give to give, we both receive. The gain is a byproduct, not the point.
It’s kind of like childbirth.
When a mother gives birth, her body’s chemistry begins to change in the late stages of labor. It isn’t just stress, but chemicals are produced which push her brain out of a hyper aware state. And in the seconds after the baby is born, she is flooded with a natural chemical which not only numbs the pain, but fills her with love.
I’ve heard mothers joke that sensation is the only reason women are able to forget the pain long enough to think the idea of having another kid is a good one.
But it’s that rush which comes that helps attach a mother to her child and helps her see past the slime at her perfect baby and not worry about anything else. The rush isn’t the reason, but it comes to make it all make sense.
You feel good when helping, not because you helped to feel good, but because it happens when you do it. Especially when you do it with love.
Grouping in love
So we don’t go it alone. We aren’t supposed to and aren’t designed to. Isolation kills us.
All of this is the rational argument for why we should get together with other people and why we shouldn’t be lone wolves. But there really is a more basic reason.
We’re most alive with others. Even our most introverted need community when it seems to drain them. A small community, of twos and threes, slowed down to let each other think and respond in our own time is energizing for all but the most socially awkward.
We all need a friend.
And ultimately, anyone seeking to find God only needs to look to the person to their right.
[This is Thesis #19 of my 31 Theses. To read them all, visit the 31 Theses introduction page.]