Where to start?
Church would be easy if it wasn’t for all the people….
As John Ortberg writes: “Every one of us – all we like sheep – have habits we can’t control, past deeds we can’t undo, flaws we can’t correct. This is the cast of characters God has to work with…..Everybody’s weird.”
Some are weirder than others.
The community of church – the body of Christ – is where we get to practise loving people. This people, in this place, at this time. It is easy to love people in the abstract, at a distance; to feel that our hearts are full of love and the goodness and kindness of God. It is a little harder to love people in reality. Face to face. Week in and week out. As Jean Vanier writes: “Community is the place where our limitations, our fears and our egoism are revealed to us. While we are alone, we could believe we loved everyone.”
But this is where it is at.
Jesus said that all the law and the prophets are summed up by two things: loving God and loving others. And he also said that you can’t pass on the “loving others” bit. You can’t say you love God, whom you can’t see, if you don’t love those people around you with skin on.
That is challenging at times.
But the older I get, the longer my teeth grow, the more I realise that relationships and friendships and intimacy and relating well to others is vital and central and of the utmost importance. More than visions and targets and purpose statements and campaigns – loving God and loving others is central to it all.
Some of the things that I think are important in this aspect, in no particular order:
Maybe you have some ideas and thoughts that you can add?
A couple of books I have enjoyed on this subject:
“Everybody’s normal till you get to know them” – John Ortberg. This is probably one of his best books and is divided into three sections: Part 1: “Normal, there’s no such thing dear”, Part 2: How to get close without getting hurt and Part 3: “The secrets of strong relationships.”
Friendship: An Expose by Joseph Epstein
“In a wickedly entertaining anatomy of friendship in its contemporary guises, Joseph Epstein uncovers the rich and surprising truths about our favoured companions. Is it possible to have too many friends? Is your spouse supposed to be your best friend? How far should you go to help a friend in need? And how do you end a friendship that has run its course?” (Good Reads)
Not a Christian book, but quite witty and entertaining…