And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40, ESV)
Over the last few months, we’ve been looking deeper into the foundation stones of Titus Women—the key principles that define our lives and our ministry. First, we talked about God’s invitation to know Him personally, intimately. This intimacy flows into transformed living, so last month we talked about the Holy Spirit’s work in us to make us like Jesus. Transformation, though, always takes place in the context of community.
If you read through Leviticus (which is really much more fascinating than it sounds), two things become clear: God wants His people to love Him wholeheartedly, and He wants them to demonstrate this love by treating each other well. (In a word, He wants them to be holy.) Loving God and loving your neighbor are inextricably linked, and Jesus confirmed this in the Gospels.
John Wesley put it this way: “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” We simply can’t follow Jesus alone, which is simultaneously the best and the most annoying news. Holiness would be easy if it weren’t for other people. (Amen?) The truth is, I need other people around to get under my skin and get me out of my own head. Otherwise, I easily fall into a self-deceptive, Erin-centered world. But honestly, it’s scary to really let others into my world. People are fallen: we hurt each other, say the wrong things, break our promises. Community is always messy.
Messy, yes—and Jesus calls us right into the middle of it. Because He knows, just like you and I do, what irreplaceable joy and strength we find in relationships. Two really are better than one. I’m excited to write more about this over the next few weeks, because I’ve realized that, in His pursuit of me, Jesus has been revealing Himself through the people He’s placed in my life. Through them I have learned more than any theology text can teach, and my life has been irreversibly and beautifully changed.
For now though, I want to challenge us all to let the Holy Spirit show us any places in our lives where we’re trying to go it alone. Then, let’s trust Him to lead us into transforming, redemptive community.