Day 7: We’re Compelled to Love God’s Family – Because It is a Witness to the World

Point to Ponder: The whole world is watching how we love one another
Verse to Remember: “Your love for one another will prove to the world you are my disciples.” — John 13:35 (NLT)
Question to Consider: How loudly do your actions speak about the love of God? How loud is the voice of your small group?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 7 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community (the last day of Week 1).

There’s an interesting multi-dimensionality behind today’s devotional: the idea that the strength of our vertical relationship with God is measured by the depth our horizontal relationship to other believers. More, that this depth determines the power of our witness to those outside the church.

There’s an interesting premise underlying this argument: that all people really do need and desire love and community, but they have a hard time believing such Love could really exist. The corollary is that if they ever could ever see such a convincing demonstration of love, they would inexorably be drawn toward it.

“The world is desperate for love and a sense of community, and we’re meant to be the salt that increases their thirst for living water.”

Perhaps a radical statement, but the more I think about it the more convinced I am that it is true. Rick then follows up with an even more dramatic assertion:

“Our love for one another shows the world our unity with the Father, and also shows them community requires unity — a oneness about the purposes of life.”

Fascinating. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as his emphasis on purpose (though, I must admit I didn’t study his first book in detail), but it is still striking to realize that community is founded on common purposes. In particular, I appreciate his use of the plural: I also believe we have many purposes, and many levels of purpose, and our goal should be to recognize that diversity — while still nurturing unity. As I like to say:

1. Happy systems fulfill their purposes (cf. Matthew 6:33)
2. Healthy systems align with their purposes (cf. Matthew 22:37)
3. Holy systems achieve their purposes by others achieving theirs (cf. Matthew 22:39)

Alas, this perspective that the church’s role is to give people what they truly want, need, and desire is often lost in our public communication. I share Rick’s alarm that “we’re often know by what we’re against, rather than what we are for — the Good News…”

Prayer: God, forgive me for the times I’ve tried to prove my discipleship by demonstrating my knowledge, or your law, rather than our love. Forgive me for abstracting people as “sinners” or “heathen” rather than flesh-and-blood human beings like myself. For that matter, forgive me for failing to bring my own flesh to you, to be crucified and redeemed. God, unleash the power of your love in my life. Teach me what it means to love my fellow believers, even as you teach me what it means to be loved by you. Help me to become a whole person, serving you and others with my whole heart. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.