written by Michael Himick
Last week, I had the opportunity to tell you about the goal of a new ministry called Sunday Action. I wrote that, at base, the mission of this ministry is to help Christ-followers put the gospel commands of Jesus Christ into action.
But there’s an elephant in the room when it comes to putting Jesus’s teaching into action in the West. And until we can start to see this elephant — and can find a way to send the proverbial pachyderm packing — we’re going to find it very, very hard to truly be Jesus’s disciples and to walk as He did.
Here is what I mean, specifically.
Jesus said: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
Then, in the very same discourse, He said: “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17)
In these two seemingly simple sentences, our Lord inextricably linked His two-part summary of scripture. He inextricably linked the scriptural command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and the scriptural command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He said, if truly love me, you will obey what I command — and what I command is for you to love your neighbor. Jesus basically told us, “you can’t get this half-right.”
The apostle John called attention to this again, boldly, when he wrote, “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has also given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21). Again, God speaks: “you can’t get this half-right.”
Yet think about the culture we live in today. Loving your neighbor requires real community. Do we have real community in the West today? Or have we put individualism and privacy up on such an idolatrous pedestal that we’ve virtually obliterated deep and loving relationships outside of our own “nuclear family”?
When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, have we knit our lives together in such a way that we know lots of neighbors to love, or do we have to struggle to come up with “service opportunities” that we can do on Saturday from 1 to 3 pm? Are we simply part of a church “small group,” or do we truly have loving relationships with Christian brothers and sisters? Do we truly know and love any people in need?
For too many of us today, it’s too easy to live life in a bubble. We wake up in our brick and wood bubbles, drive to work in our steel and glass bubbles, and come home and watch the bubble on the wall. If we are going to truly follow Jesus and walk as He did, this must stop. Jesus did not live in a bubble.
Friends, there is a biblical tool that can be used to build real community. It is the agape feast practiced by the early church. If you like, you can call it a community feast, because that is what these feasts build in God. I hope to tell you more about agape, or community, feasts next week. For now, know this: if we can just start to see the elephant in the room, the bible gives us a way to come together and send it packing.