Regarding relationships within the church, Jesus said:
“Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
— John 13:34b (NRSV)
There is a fact about life, in the presence of community, that every now and then we get hurt. And when we get hurt, we withdraw; having felt isolated we become even more isolated. It’s a snowballing effect. The more withdrawn we become, the more comfortable we get to be in our own company, the more our confidence in social situations plummets. And alone, in that hurt space, we think all sorts of unproductive thoughts as we become captive to fear.
From such a spot of felt isolation we sense the difficulties of life in irregular enormity.
Such is the direction surrounding the hurt of rejection that it takes us into a veritable hell. We enter a situation where the light of life vacates into the distance.
But if we know this, and we ward against staying hurt, through some practical actions, we can avert this sense of disaster of isolation, for social isolation was never meant to be how we were to live.
Knowing that we are especially susceptible to feeling rejected means that we can focus, with intention, upon the power of God repelling that type of slide.
This may be the most important thing we could do so far as human fellowship is concerned. And as Christians, it is even more fundamental; we need to remember that the Scripture verse quoted above is a command of the Lord Jesus.
If we call ourselves Jesus-followers we will want to quickly obey this Word.
Love Like Jesus Loved
Can we but imagine, just for a moment, what it must have been like for Jesus to love Judas Iscariot—his betrayer—or Peter—the Rock upon whom the church would be built, who rejected Jesus in his hour of need—who had betrayed him?
Jesus speaks many times through the Gospels about forgiving one’s enemies, and we can understand that within our minds, but can we live it within our hearts?
With faith on our side we can reject the idea of staying stuck in our hurt as we abandon our pride. Yes, we may have been in the right, but what matter is it if it means we, or anyone else God loves, is out of fellowship? We can only be blessed when we have a real desire for unity.
In living the genuine Christian existence, we have an opportunity to move beyond our hurt places, and to bring healing within—the Holy Spirit’s healing—through the simple act of obedience to love like Jesus loved.
When we hold to the standard of Jesus’ love we know we can never love enough, so we stay compelled to just keep loving the best we can and to never give up. When we love people as Jesus loved his disciples, we forgive the people who hurt us, and there is then no barrier to belonging.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.