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Community, the Church

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

We are now living in this house, even without a kitchen (which I hope will begin to be installed today), or hanging rods in any of the closets, or a door on the one bathroom with a working shower. I decided last night, even with half a bathroom unfinished as well as doors, two hallways and who knows what else, that I don’t ever want to paint another stroke again or clean another brush or bucket, or run to buy yet another five gallons of paint. The wrist brace that Anne lent me is no longer overcompensating for my manual labor injury and the blisters on my hands are outward indicators of the swollen joints inside. At one point last week, I noticed that in my exhaustion, my face felt numb. That is normal, right?

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal. 5:13-14

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12

No matter what we as Americans try to do with it, no matter how my ego-centric heart presumes autonomy, the Gospel can never be individualistic, self-serving, or separatist and retain the integrity of it’s GOOD news. I have experienced this most beautiful “body of Christ” on earth in the process of this move. From Scott, Eric, Wyatt, Drew and Ted constructing a new hallway in the back of our house to Jim installing sinks in our bathrooms, to Sarah removing the nastiest carpet ever, to Stephanie, Amy, Meredith, Hannah, EA, Karen, Melissa, Jenn, Mom and Diane painting, to Dad installing light fixtures and sink cabinets, to Walter hanging our bedroom door perfectly, to Carolos and LaTonya chauffeuring my children over to Elisabeth who graciously allowed them an escape from the madness for a few hours, to Liza cleaning the bathrooms not once but twice in a way that makes them safe to eat in, to the Westside Church volunteer moving crew, to Anne sorting through our piles of clothes in closets without hanging rods to bring order anyway, to Karen and Sarah letting us walk down to their house for breakfast Sunday and use their dryer, to Beverly bringing us dinner, to Hannah hanging shower curtains, paper blinds and bringing a smoothie today as I’m finally in bed sick…I have experienced what it is to be part of the body of Christ and the joy that I am not left orphaned or alone. It is astonishingly beautiful, unnatural and such evidence that Jesus is alive in this community.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

It was not good for Adam to be alone, it was not complete. It is only in my pride that I convince myself I don’t need others. Quite honestly, it seems impossible to say “I need God” and think I have no need of His people. I hate feeling indebted to people, and yet I have found that my dependence on others is inextricably linked to my dependence on God. What I mean is that as long as I feel reasonably self-reliant in relation to others, it can’t help but make me feel self-reliant in relation to God. On the flip side, surprisingly, as I acknowledge my needs before God and my need of others, it actually tears down walls and draws me closer to both. I was not made to live unto myself, independent of either God or man, but rather belonging to both.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

Belonging means that once my season of extraordinary physical need comes to an end, which I hope it will soon, the goal is not to hibernate in this new home behind shut doors and drawn windows. His love compels me outward and to allow others inside freely. I am called to suffer with others as Jesus has suffered for and with me, ultimately in His living and dying but also through His people even in this past month. I am also called to share in the celebrations of others. The problem is that naturally, I don’t really want to do either. Naturally, I want to serve myself first and only, which I will do unless His Spirit is at work in me and overrides my strong, self-centered will. And He promises to do just this!

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:22-25

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9

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