Paul was right.
In order that we develop a true sense of community, we have to understand the basic concepts that drive the way we are knit together.
Romans 12 says, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (v. 9-15)
Can you remember the last time someone rejoiced with you? It felt great, didn't it? They noticed. They cared. They think I'm somebody. They really think of me.
What about the last time someone honestly mourned with you? In a strange way, that felt good too. They didn't try to cheer you up. They didn't try to feed you a verse. They just sat there and they almost seemed to feel the darkness like you felt it.
I've been to lots of funerals, and the worst ones are the one's where trite sayings like, "God works all things together for the good" are repeated. Nobody wants to hear that in the middle of tragedy. Even though it's true, it's certainly not very helpful on the heels of sad times.
I've seen kids throw touchdowns on the football field in front of hundreds of people, and I've heard dads whisper, "but you could have done better son." What good is that?
What would happen if we started living this stuff, instead of just reading past it in our 'daily' quiet times? Sitting with someone in the middle of a hard time and just…well, being there.
Sometimes your presence is enough to say, "I'm with you. And I'm so sad, I don't even have the words." Because the pain transfers from person to person, and you REALLY FEEL THE SAME PAIN.
Empathy is a powerful bond of trust and friendship.
Taking sadness on yourself, while your friend goes through it…that's real community.
Showing a joyful celebration in the midst of great success…now that's real community.
Trying to point out all the reverse attitude in the middle of either trauma or success…that's how we kill it, and become trite, conceited, 'all about us,' type of people.
We could really take on someone else's burdens.
We could celebrate with those who are on top of their game.
We could…well, really love?
I'm not saying I have this one figured out either, but I know I wouldn't want someone trying to over-spiritualize a tragedy in my life until I had the strength to hear it.
Maybe it's just time to live life WITH each other, and not AT one another. (that's my favorite line right now if you couldn't tell)
Maybe that's what Jesus means when He says, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Maybe that's what true Freedom is.
I'm still struggling, and greatly appreciate your prayers in a Very Dark time of life.