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What Does Love Require of Me?

What Does Love Require of Me?

I have been thinking a lot lately, about our vision and our mission at Branches. Jesus commanded us to "go and make disciples of all nations...baptize them...teach them." He said all nations, not some. That means he is asking us to engage with all different kinds of people. Rewind back to 2007.

I was living a life of addiction and other self destructive behaviors when I walked through the doors at Branches. I walked in the doors with the mess of my life, and what I got on the other side of the door was love and acceptance. My lifestyle wasn't accepted, my actions were not encouraged, but I was loved because I was human. As I began to feel like I belonged, I started to engage with what was being said. I began to read my bible again. I started to pray and connect with God. And my decisions and actions started to change. Rewind another few thousand years.

Jesus is teaching and he begins to share something that would forever alter the course of history! He unveils a way of thinking that was completely foreign, not just to the people he was talking with, but to the whole world. Up unto this point, people really only had contractual or transactional relationships with one another. Wives were purchased for a price, or exchanged as a treaty. Children were born as hired hands. And if the kids were not enough to work the land, slaves were purchased to fill the need. But Jesus would introduce a new way of engaging with others in on short statement. In John chapter 13, Jesus is recorded saying "A new command I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." This was brand new to the world! This statement is what gives us an inkling of the necessity of fairness, civil rights, equality, and treating others with respect. Jesus changed the world with this statement, and then he made this kind of relational interaction the trademark of His followers. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Fast forward back to today.

Here is the reality for us at Branches: If we truly build a church (people, not a building) we can bring our friends (those people who have yet to know Jesus) to, we will encounter messy people. If we create a place where people can belong before they behave, we CAN NOT be surprised when people show up WITH their mess. We can not require people to clean up their messes before they can come in.

You know what the best part about this whole thing is? The fact that when we extend this kind of grace to others, it means we have the same permission to show with our own mess. We should be creating the kind of culture we want to live in. And I don't know about you, but I would rather be allowed to be genuine with my mess, then be required to hide behind a false perfection.

So I encourage you today to choose to love those around you. When you encounter someone else's mess, ask yourself this question:

"What does love require of me?"

Love you guys!