Love is the Hardest Path
JR. Forasteros - September 14, 2014
Love is the Hardest Path
From Series: "Branches"
No matter how much we enjoy the weekend worship experience, sooner or later, we stop growing. That's because we need more than great music and an engaging message. We need to connect with other people who are on the same journey as us. Learning we're not alone as we try to follow Jesus changes everything, and that's what Branches is all about. In a Branches group, you'll find people who've been where you are, who know the joys and pains of building relationships, work and figuring out your calling, raising a family, leaving a lasting legacy. They're people you can join with in figuring out exactly how the new life Jesus offers us changes our whole world. If that sounds too good to be true, it's not. Becoming part of a small group is the single best way to pursue a thriving, life-changing relationship with God. This is Branches. And big things happen in small groups.
More From "Branches"
Church is one of the few places in life that choosing a small group is optional. If you stick to the rows of a big gathering like this, then as long as you like the speaker or the music, you’ll probably good. You don’t really have to interact with other people beyond a smile and maybe a handshake.
We spent a good bit of time last week acknowledging the anxiety many of us feel over engaging new people, especially when they’re different from us. We talked about meeting people where they are, loving them for who they are, not who we want them to be. We saw how worship in the Corinthian house churches had devolved to a place where they reinforced the divisions among the Corinthians rather than celebrating their common need for Jesus and their common faith in him.
Paul told them they need each other, that their groups should unite, not further divide. That Paul expected their circles (and ours) to be diverse. To include people who aren’t like us.
I think there’s a natural question that arises from Paul’s instructions. An honest, realistic question that goes beyond a person with an annoying quirk (because we all have annoying quirks, and we all want to be loved in spite of our quirks, so Golden Rule love people with quirks the way you want to be loved with your quirks).
But what about differences that go beyond the superficial?
What about people who differ on big issues… like abortion or gay rights? The Economy, immigration, gun control, parenting styles… we could go on and on. Part of the reason we like our circles to be small and similar to us is that we like the predictability of sameness.
And frankly, none of us loves the idea of getting into huge fights. So we’re left with not too many options when it comes to small groups: we can keep the conversation shallow (which means we’re not really going to get to that place growth happens) or we run the very real risk of hitting one of any number of conversational landmines.
The deep question, the honest and fair question here is: how can we realistically expect to live life with those who see the world differently from us?
Isn’t there a pretty good reason we always divide ourselves up by age, by gender, by religion, denomination and worldview, by nation and language and every conceivable way we can draw lines between Us and Them we do it.
So we hear you, Paul, when you say we need each other. We’re just not sure how that actually plays out in real life.
The good news for us this morning is that the Corinthian Church faced that same radical call to unity despite our differences. Paul’s instructions to them matter for us as well, and today we’ll see the simple, powerful beauty in his advice: