Monday, May 24, 2010
A few months ago I had a few friends over to my house to talk about poverty in Orange County, and to learn more about how God has called us to love the poor and serve others. One of my friends, Tommy Nixon, was with us that day. He and his family have become incarnational missionaries to a community in Fullerton. As Tommy began to share how he and his family were walking out their faith in their community he said something that helped me grasp more of life in the Kingom.
Tommy talked about how his home-based church had identified four key values which they practiced daily. The first two were familiar, but the second two were what intrigued me. These values, which drive their daily practice of faith together, involve examining every situation, and their own lives, to ask, "How can I use this experience to love God, and to love others?"
What Tommy said next has lingered in my mind every since. He said that he and his church family have also started to look at every situation to find ways that they can receive love from God and to receive love from others.
I think, maybe, this second statement captured my imagine because I'm not always sure how to receive love from others.
Learning to Be Loved
One Sunday morning our house church family had a similar conversation. We had been on a very long journey to explore "concentric circles of love" in our Body. Our hope was to identify our need start obeying the command of Jesus to love by beginning close to home. We start with our own family, then outward to our friends, then to our neighbors, then to our co-workers, and then finally outward to the community and the stranger in need.
So, on this particular morning we found ourselves going around the room and asking each other, "How can I show you that I love you?"
Most of us had a hard time answering that question. Others flat out refused to discuss the subject at all. It was a sensitive topic for some of us, and it touched on a nerve that made it clear that we're not very comfortable allowing people to love us deeply.
Over time I've become convinced that Trust is one of the most essential elements in our relationship with God. To "believe in" Jesus is to trust in Him. Faith is about taking your entire life and pushing all of your chips into the middle - to go all in so to speak - and to trust God with everything.
But what can we do if, at a basic level, many of us - myself included - have a hard time trusting our hearts to others? How can we love others as we love ourselves if, deep inside, we really don't love ourselves very much at all?
Maybe this fear we have of being loved is connected to our struggle with trusting God too? At the core, we had to admit that our "truster" was broken - or at least in need of an overhaul.
I think sometimes this concept of completing the circle is what holds me back. I tend to focus so much on loving God and loving others that I forget I need to soak up some of His love in order to splash it around on the people we're serving. If my sponge is dry, how can I refresh someone else?
So, we're still on this journey to discover how to love in these concentric circles. I know that I am only just beginning to learn how to allow God to love me, and to allow others to love me, as I follow Jesus daily.