I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
- John 13:34
Christians every since have struggled with the question: how do I love as Christ loved? It's not easy. Because of sin we never get it right. It becomes a spiritual disciple for us to even try. Because it is Christ's command we are moved to just do it.
Thanks to the Lombard Menonnite Peace Center, my work in Bowen Theory, the colaborative work with the Shepherds Minsitry in my congregation, and the feedback of many people I journey through this life of loving Christ and living faith, I have come up with some steps we can take to do the work of living Christ's love.
To live Christ's love means navigating within the reality that God made each and everyone of us as unique individuals called to live in community with other unique people. How do we remain true to our self and live among others who are different? So much of what we encounter in human relationships falls right here:
LIVING CHRIST'S LOVE
Being an individual child of God in community with others.
Living freely in the light of grace I can:
- Be true to myself. I am created in the image of God and one with Jesus through baptism.
- Be in community. I am created by God to live among other people as the body of Christ.
- Accept disagreements. Conflict is a normal part of human relationships.
- Affirm hope. God will use disagreements as an opportunity to grow.
- Commit to prayer. God invited me to lift up my needs and the needs of others in prayer.
- Humbly go directly to others. I can own my own part in a disagreement while communicating directly with the other.
- Listen. I can seek to understand the other who is free to have a different opinion.
- Be slow to judge. Having a different opinion on one issue does not make the other my opponent.
- Negotiate. I can work through disagreements constructively, celebrating the possibility of reconciliation.
- Trust the community. Neutral people from the community can help mediate solutions.
- Love, even when it's difficult. I can live the golden rule, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
- Stay connected. I don't need to cut off from or insincerely give in to those I disagree with.