Updated: Oct 19, 2019
It’s estimated that every year 63,500 people in australia attempt to take their own lives.
The bible tells us: God is love (1 John 4:8) and, “By this they shall know that you are my disciples that you love one another” (John 13:35) The fact that people are lonely on the planet and have no hope is incongruent for us, with God’s call to love and be in relationship with Him and one another. Of course there are many reasons why people find themselves in this place, and while we can't be held responsible for the situations that others find themselves in, it does set us up to go deeper.
1 Corinthians 13 says that "without love we are a resounding gong or a clanging symbol, we have nothing”
When I read the first five chapters of Acts and birthing of the early church, I read about God’s people giving and sharing with one another so that no one was in need of anything. I read of them not only worshipping and studying together, but eating together and caring and healing. In fact their reputation of love for one another is such, that even the Gentiles would bring their sick to God’s people to be healed and thousands were added to their number each day. I read those early chapters of Acts and have to ask the question, what happened to us?
We talk about our need for community, and while I agree, I think a core issue with the term 'community', is our definition of it. The sad reality is that we can have community without any real depth of connection, like a nice convenience or a social club. But for real, lasting and meaningful relationships, what we really need is a deeper level of connection. By this I mean safe, authentic and vulnerable relationships within our communities; including our churches, families and friendships.
We need something deeper than a church community...we need a family of God, and it starts with each one of us making that choice personally. It goes deeper than just attending community, it is about being family within community…getting to know each other authentically, and caring for one another personally. It’s scary and messy to transition from community to family, because it means that we have to step into intimacy and vulnerability.
The challenge is the fact that you can't have loving relationships without risking rejection, and so many of us are too afraid to get hurt again or gossiped about. You have to be brave enough to allow yourself to take a risk.
C.S Lewis once said:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I’ve deeply questioned this, loving with my whole heart, despite being loved back or not, tossing up whether that was setting myself up by over-investing, because I'd invested my heart before and been completely shattered as a result. But right then the Holy Spirit chimed in and said "Did I over-invest in you when I gave my life for you on the cross?"
We are grieving the greatest loss in history. It is every heart’s cry; uninterrupted connection with God and one another. That's why it feels so excruciating when it happens, because it's not meant to be this way. The problem is that if we choose not to love, we add to the problem, instead of being part of healing the pain. It's not easy but it's worth it :) Living with Jesus and each other in heaven in total loving connection forever, yep I will fight for that, even when it hurts, even though I feel like running. The fact is that true love is selfless and sacrificial.
DON’T GIVE UP! Our tendency when we feel hurt, lonely and rejected is to run or withdraw, to turn bitter and resentful and to disconnect. I am sad to say I have done that myself. When I was let down it was excruciatingly painful. For a time I became very bitter, and sunk into deep depression and anxiety until God was able to speak to my own heart.
When I look back now I think of the lives God has touched through the ministries He has called me to. I shudder to think about the consequences for some of them, in the fact that I almost gave up. God has people for you to bless and reach. When the embers of warmth glow dim in your life, be the igniting fire, choose to be the change you want to see. Let us not forget that we are in the middle of a spiritual battle, and our battle is not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities. In this great battle, which side are you fighting on... God’s or Satan’s?
When you’ve overcome in a particular area and God gives you the opportunity to encourage someone, don’t be afraid to share your struggles and what God has done for you! We all need people who have personal experiences and struggles, to be the light in the darkness. It’s through the sharing of testimony, understanding of one another’s journeys and life struggles, that we connect and bond as we relate and empathise with one another. We also gain much strength and hope for the journey, hearing stories of others who have struggled, survived and flourished.
To glorify God and His hope for us through sharing is extremely powerful and incredibly necessary. It increases the quality and depth of our relationships and gives amazing substance to our faith, as we hear living proof of the powerful love of God to transform lives. Think about it, even God shares explicitly about the struggles of humanity in the bible! The best and the worst, stripped back and vulnerable in all its glory! Why? Because in order to understand the grace and power of God’s healing and forgiveness, we have to first understand how far gone we were, to see how far He can take us. He sees our deepest pain and most shameful places, and yet loves us into our potential.
As Christians, we don’t have lives that are perfect but we should have experiences that are living and passionate. Life is full of trials and temptations; of strong effort and victory...with a joy and peace that comes from a win with Jesus. When we share these experiences with others it shines a light for them, giving them strength and knowledge that extends on and propels them to greatness in their life and calling.
Only by love is love awakened. The bible says: I have loved you with an everlasting love, with loving kindness I have drawn you to myself (Jeremiah 31:3)
It’s true. Jesus had success in reaching the people because He loved them enough to desire their good. He showed empathy for them, ministering to their needs and building up their trust. He practised what he preached, so His love and authenticity gave Him the relational currency to say “Come follow me” because they know He had the real answers on a better way to live.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. Proverbs 25:21
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
Our love for each other is a reflection of God’s love for us; our calling is to love each other as God loved us and it is by doing this in our own unique way, that we find our meaning and purpose and complete God’s mission to help save mankind.
Will you choose to be brave enough to go deeper? Are you brave enough to love?
I have loved you with an everlasting love; and with loving-kindness, I have drawn you to myself.