John 15:12-13 ……. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
God wants us to have relationships; firstly in a vertical direction with Him and then the horizontal with everyone else. Entering into a relationship is like going on a mission to another country; it is like entering into the private world of the people around us. Every person we talk to is unique – no two people or their circumstances are the same.
When I go on mission I quickly try to adapt to the culture of the country. I do my best to become as much like them as I can. I eat their food, learn their language and try to live like them. I find and establish as much common ground as I can and try to connect on as many levels as possible. Before I can get to know anyone else I need to be confident in my own identity. I need to know who I am as a new creation in Christ.
I cut my teeth in Drumchapel; a housing ‘scheme’ in the north-west of Glasgow where I pastored for eight years. The area that I worked in was like an island within the island of Drumchapel. I had to learn the language, understand the culture, get to know the people and spend time ‘hanging-out’ on the streets and in their homes. In the end I built up many profound and lasting relationships.
All of us want to get on with our family but precisely because it is our family we put higher expectations upon them. I did this with my dad. I wanted him to be the best dad, a model dad, one that I could proudly hold up and show off. He could not meet my unrealistically high expectations and I was bitterly disappointed. Tragically, my hero-worship turned to disrespect and dishonour.
Fortunately, the Lord gave me some keys to unlock the treasure chest of His love and our relationship began to change before he died and was promoted to glory.
I had to accept him for who he was and not who I wanted him to be. I had to get into his world to discover who he was. I had to go on a mission to my dad’s world. Instead of looking for all the negative let-downs, I had to search for common ground to build upon. Over time our relationship grew and so too did our love and respect for each other.
Every relationship is similar, we need to take time to get to know what their world is all about; to understand their language and culture and, if we really want to get to know them, we need to adapt and to drop our preconceptions and prejudices and to love them where they are at and for who they are.
Lord Jesus, please help us to love unconditionally like you. Amen
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