The Whole Body

A few weeks ago, I wrote about something that I struggle with:  community. How it matters (here), returning to it (here), and the truth of it (here). The heart of the whole “thing” of community is something my stubbornness tries to fight daily. Maybe I should consider it pride, but whatever it is, it tries to fight against the purpose of community. It’s really about letting people love you.

My husband and I have been married for almost four years, not very long, but we’ve been through way more than I thought could happen in that time. Soon-to-be three kids, several job changes, starting a small business. I love that man more and more every single day, but he will be first to tell you that I am stubborn, especially when it comes to letting him love and serve me. There is a silly, stupid beast inside me that thinks I should fight against it, and it has taken so much of our marriage for me to tame it. But that’s my marriage, a unity that I’ve been part of for a while now. With people I don’t live with, community is not so easy. Taming the prideful, stubborn beast when it comes to letting friends actually be my friends…another story.

From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:16

I love this passage in Ephesians because it awakens the Truth inside me. Our walk with Christ, finding Jesus, doesn’t have to be a solitary experience, and Paul points that out. He talks about how unity within a body of believers grows us up in Christ, strengthening our hold on truth, and keeps us from being easily swayed by any teaching any man presents us. And we do it all while loving each other.

“But I’m a loner.”
“I work better by myself.”
“I don’t mesh well with other people.”
“Drama always seems to find me when I make friends.”
“People have always failed me, so why should I begin to trust others now?”

I wish I could say that finding community is easy, that people are always going to love each other well and offer grace. But we are all sinners and we are all in need of Jesus. It isn’t always easy to love others because we make mistakes and we hurt others. That’s just how it is. (“But Janelle..” No, no buts. No one is perfect. No friend will meet your every need. No spouse will give you a perfect marriage. But we try anyways. We love anyways, and that’s why grace is so important.)

Let people love you. That’s why we’re in community, to be loved and cared for by others and to return it. To be strong in Christ, to know truth when we hear it, and to speak truth to one another in love. Think of how gracious our God is, continually loving us in our sin and washing us clean day in and day out. Community has to be packed to the brim with that same grace. It’s not easy. It’s not without some struggle. It’s not for personal gain. It’s for Jesus. To be strong in Christ. To tame our pride and to rid us of stubbornness.

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