We're talking about loving one another and about how we love one another and whether or not we like one another and a whole mess of other things along these lines. We're talking, in other words, about what it means to be a people. Particularly, a people of God.
But for today, just being a people will be sufficient.
Because I woke up in the middle of the night last night and ended up listening to too much of the overnight news report about the ongoing war in Ukraine, and it got me thinking about all of the things that I've been writing about this week, about our togetherness.
Our culture likes to tell us that we are individuals, that our lives are up to us, that we should do whatever makes us happy, that we should pursue whatever we like. Our culture tells us to choose based on our own needs and wants and preferences and what we think is good for us. If we listen to our culture tell it, each of us is an island unto ourselves, the central point of our own world.
The truth is, we're not. We know that, but we fall into the delusion of the world too often and start to believe that maybe we are. This is especially true when we are not being loved well by those around us, when we are not experiencing the kind of community that we long for and that we desperately need. When we seem to be the only one in the trenches of our own life, digging out a foxhole for one and buckling down for the fight.
But when the bombs start dropping and the bullets start flying, they aren't coming for us; they're coming for us. All of us. The collective nature of our community.
Nothing really happens in isolation. Even the drug addict who overdoses in an abandoned house all alone and isn't found for two or three weeks leaves a ripple through the community - persons she loved, who loved her, those she went to school with, those who tried so hard to hold onto her. The single dad who is jugging the burden of raising his kids and providing for them isn't really as alone as he feels; there's a whole network of folks watching and drawing on his strength.
None of us is as alone as we ever feel in the world, and sure, maybe when we're hiding in our own lives because we hear the bullets outside, it feels like it's just us, but open the curtain a little and you'll see that those bullets aren't just flying for you; they are trying to tear the very fabric of who we are together.
Russia doesn't engage this war by going out and overcoming individuals; that's not how you dominate and conquer. You have to shred a community's sense of togetherness if you want to take that city.
So, too, does our enemy know this. The things that we face, the challenges we're up against, the bombs that are dropping on our lives - they are all meant for this, to tear at our sense of togetherness. To make us feel isolated. To pull us apart from one another. To leave in rubble the structures that we have built together. When we lose our sense of us, we lose the war. And that has always been true.
That's why getting our one anothering right is so, so important. That's why it is central to literally everything. It is everything. Jesus knew this when He told us.
He really was onto something, that God of ours. He really does know what He's talking about.