We Make the Road – Ch. 43
The simple message of this chapter.
The simple message of the Gospel.
Living it out however? Not always so simple.
WHERE THE SPIRIT IS moving, love for God always, always, always overflows in love for neighbor. And according to Jesus, our neighbor isn’t just the person who is like us, the person who likes us, or the person we like. Our neighbor is anyone and everyone—like us or different from us, friend or stranger—even enemy.
Right as McLaren opens, he doesn’t pull any punches. I have known this message all my life. Loving others. Those who chose to follow the one who loved us unconditionally must then live their lives loving others as He did.
In reality however, I learned that it was easier, safer, and comfortable to love people just like me and treat others unlike me with a masked politeness, hiding anything from questions, to jealousy, to pity, to judgment. Until life happened and I was forced to change. Suddenly I went from being inside the circle of love to outside. Years passed by as that circle only seemed to grow wider, pushing me further and further out.
Tossed by the winds, feeling so far from shore and any familiar bearing of home, I have come to accept this state. I am starting to see glimpses of beauty in watching and waiting and living on the outskirts, versus on the inside. I had never been in this place before. I had never known loss, or what it felt like to be questioned, judged, or misunderstood. Maybe that is a lesson we all come to at one point or another in our life — all I know is it has been a difficult one to learn, however needed it was.
So how do I live my life now? I still feel drawn to the example of Christ’s life and love. Even with all the questions and doubt, I don’t know how, nor do I really want to live a life without faith in Him and His essential message to love unconditionally.
I know that religion, particularly Christianity with all its familiar rules and regulations, doctrines and dogmas, practices and language of its own still pull at me like an old worn out shoe. But at the same time, it doesn’t fit me very well anymore.
I guess only time will tell where I find I fit within Christianity and without it. Until I figure it out, I am content to keep quietly waiting on the outskirts learning to see anew when I look in towards the home fire of comfort and familiarity and learning to see with wonder when I look out to see what is truly around me. Perhaps I am just more spiritual now than religious. I am not really sure.
Its strange how, at one time, I was beyond certain and sure in knowing what I thought, what I believed, what others believed, my eternal destiny, other’s eternal destiny, my relationship with God, others relationship with God, heaven, hell, sin, gender, sexual orientation, creation, evolution, abortion, marriage, politics… — every possible facet of life my religion had given me an answer for. It was all so nicely organized into categories and boxes, I just knew were labeled correctly.
Now its all scattered around me, and I am trying to rebuild piece by piece.
So the question becomes how? How do I build it now? What do I keep? What do I rearrange? What do I set aside?
I can’t just toss around words like “love others” like its simple and easy to figure out how to actually do it. I was encouraged when McLaren didn’t either.
In the school of the Spirit, everyone majors in love. Of course, if love remains a generality, it’s just a word. That’s why the New Testament is serious about translating love into practical, specific, concrete, down-to-Earth action. Because each of us has something to give and much to receive, the term one another keeps popping up on page after page of the New Testament. These “one-anothers” tell us what the prime directive—love one another—looks like in action…
The list of scriptures and “one-another” call-to-actions he shares is by no means short. It’s challenging. It’s convicting. It’s worth pondering over.
Call-To-Action One Another List of Scriptures
2. “Wash one another’s feet… serve one another in love.” (John 13:14, Gal. 5:13)
3. “Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50, 1 Thess. 5:13, 1 Pet. 3:8)
4. “Be devoted to one another with mutual affection.” (Rom. 12:10)
5. “Honor one another above yourselves.” (Rom. 12:10)
6. “Live in harmony with one another.” (Rom. 12:16)
7. “Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Rom. 14:13)
8. “Accept one another as Christ accepted you.” (Rom. 15:7)
9. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Pet. 5:14)
10. “Agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Cor. 1:10)
11. “When you come together to eat, wait for “each other.” (1 Cor. 11:33)”
12. “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Cor. 12:24–25)
13. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Gal. 5:26)
14. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
15. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2, Col. 3:13)
16. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13, 1 Thess. 5:15)
17. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21)
18. “Do not lie to each other.” (Col. 3:9)
19. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16)
20. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thess. 5:11, Heb. 3:13)
21. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together… but let us encourage one another.” (Heb. 10:24–25)
22. “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
23. “Don’t grumble against each other.” (James 5:9)
24. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
25. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Pet. 4:9)
26. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” (1 Pet. 5:5)” Excerpt From: Brian D. McLaren. “We Make the Road by Walking.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/5YMbR.l
This week there is one on that list that spoke to me. Its not that I don’t respect the entire list and find myself convicted by many of them. Believe me, I do, but my list-loving-performance-driven personality needs to be careful with “do good lists” these days. I can so easily slip back into old patterns of pretending and getting so busy doing that I forget to be. I trade being me, I trade in authenticity for a shinier replica that I think is better, when in reality its just a fake me.
So, for today, its number “18. “Do not lie to each other.” (Col. 3:9)”
Shock. So obvious I know, but while we are on the subjects of authenticity and vulnerability, I have my own confessions to make. Lying is easy to not do, when its the context of telling about an event accurately, or being forthcoming in the sense of having integrity. I struggle with being honest about myself. Lies of omission or downplaying something or hiding something for fear of hurting or bothering someone else are more my style. Perhaps there is a certain level of this that is ok, like when a friend is feeling insecure about their outfit or their hair — you don’t just blurt out the brutal truth. Well if you’re my husband you do and get your foot stuck in your mouth on more than one occasion lol, but if you are like me you tend to punt for tact and find something positive to say.
I digress. I guess my point is that when it comes to relationships in my life that matter I am trying to learn to be honest. Sometimes being authentic and vulnerable means admitting to being angry or scared or hurt. For me it is often easier to self-blame, self-criticize, or assume I should be silent, then to be really honest about how something makes me feel. Especially if that feeling is one I for so long have considered negative emotions to be hidden, like anger or jealousy. Maybe that’s not you. Maybe it’s easier to express anger and say what you feel without stopping to think. In this case, its often more vulnerable to search deeper for the fear or jealousy or insecurity hiding beneath the surface. I have found the lies are in what I don’t say and in the feelings I try to hide, not what comes out instinctively or is easy to own up to.
In order to truly love others, especially the people in my life I truly value, I have to love both them and myself enough that I am willing to share all of me.
Even the parts I want to hide.
I have to be willing to be real, even when it hurts.
Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
- What does it mean to you to be real and authentic and to love others?
- What does Faith look like to you?
- If you are following on in the book, what call-to-action for one another spoke the most to you?
- What negative emotions do you mask?
- Why is vulnerability and authenticity so difficult?
- Any other thoughts from the book or insights you want to share?