Persevere in love

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial.              Dietrich Bonhoeffer
These words from Bonhoeffer make a hard teaching. It is not a teaching we can brush off lightly, however, when we are a people called to be defined by our love. They are words that remind me of that core tenant of relational love; that ultimately our love of another person needs to be greater than our will to dominate, or else there can be no love present. Love is very specific, and we are called to love the particular people who meet us daily in our families and communities – it is deceptively easy to fall into the habit of loving a romanticized idea of the community we would like to create instead of the one we actually have.  
This weekend’s Gospel reading returns to the theme of pursuing greatness that we visited some weeks ago. This time, two of the disciples are asking if they can be assured of a place above the others when Jesus comes in glory – a place at his right hand and at his left. This is self-seeking rather than sharing in the joy of the expansion of God’s realm on earth, and humankind are always inclined towards this kind of ambition. But it is not the way. Jesus responds by telling them that any who wish to become great must become the servant of all. In practical terms, this does not mean being self-negating, but it does mean actively seeking and working for the good of those around us, even where it might mean letting go of some of our own plans and most cherished ideas about the way things should be. It is about learning to love real people, not imaginary ones – and even the ones we might find difficult. We, after all, are difficult too, and God relentlessly loves us.
May we persevere in love that we may know the joy of true and lasting community.
Grace and peace,

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