As A People Who Build One Another Up
I had a conversation with my son not long ago in which I told him about a specific person who I was finding very difficult to love. He thought about this for a moment then said, “God has no trouble loving this person. God is around him one-hundred percent of the time—and God enjoys spending time with him.” I had never thought about it that way before. God enjoys the people we might prefer to avoid? How amazing is that!
There is a difference between the people we choose for community and the people who actually are in community with us. That is, we naturally choose to be close to those we find agreeable, understandable, likeminded, and pleasant. But in life—and in Meeting for Worship, at church potlucks, on committees, and at wider Quaker gatherings—we sometimes find ourselves in very close association with others who are not necessarily any of those things! However, are we called to be in community only with those who are easy to love? The world of Friends United Meeting includes people who are diverse in many ways: culturally, theologically, politically, etc. For some, the diversity is too broad and too challenging. Yet others discover something dynamic in that diversity—namely that God is present within it, God designed it, and God hopes we will grow because of it.
Our mission in the world is stronger because of the depth of our community. To achieve that level of community, accepting others gets us started. But we must become the kind of people who actively take the next steps to build one another up.
Query for Reflection
How can I build up people I find hard to understand, or difficult to love?
Strike up a conversation with someone you find difficult to love. Ask them something about their past, their present, or their plans for the future. Note how listening to someone’s personal story lays the groundwork for a deeper level of community.
Lord, help us see what you find enjoyable about others and help us discover ways to build up the many others who are
in community with us.