Most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place every five to six months. This gypsy lifestyle instilled in me the ability to make friends quickly, keep them at arms length and then forget them just as quickly. Looking back, I realize that this was a self defense mechanism I used to keep the relational damage to a minimum.
When I surrendered my life to Jesus I began to see how we are designed for meaningful relationships in the context of community. The problem for me was I had a set pattern of keeping people at a distance, thinking only about myself. Jesus tells us to “love one another.” I had no idea what that really meant or how to do it.
For me, the only way I could learn to “love one another” was to make the choice to let people get close as I stumbled through the process of having meaningful relationships. In the early stages of the journey I went through the “If it wasn’t for Jesus I’d hate your guts” phase. I truly had to choose to love certain people because they annoyed me to no end (I am sure the feeling was mutual…). But as I allowed Jesus to teach me how to love, I found that I was developing a genuine affection for others. This didn’t mean that it was warm fuzzy feelings all the time, but by God’s grace I was able to let people get close and to show grace to the “difficult people” in my life.
The Apostle Paul writes,
“Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you,
for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other…
…Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.”
As I journey through the process of learning how to love people, I know that it is only by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit teaching me that I can “do so more and more.”
I urge you to do the same.
Written by Pastor Jon Verwey