The place God transforms you

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?
— 1 John 4:20 NLT

The Christian life is a “one another” life. God will form you in solitude, but he will transform you in relationships. These relationships will not always be easy, they will not always be desirable; but they are necessary.

We had some doughnut holes at the office last Friday: chocolate, glazed, jelly-filled, and the powered sugar kind. When I went into the kitchen about an hour or two after the doughnut holes arrived, you know what was left don't you? Just the "unpopular kids," a small group of powered sugar stragglers loitering at the bottom of the box.

Some people are like powered sugar doughnut holes — they are harder to take.

Parker Palmer said of the Christian community,

Community is that place where the person you least want to live with always lives.

Perhaps this is why God tells us so many times, “love one another.” In John’s writings alone—which is significant in that John is “the disciple Jesus loved”—John tells us ten times: Love one another.

  • We should love one another. 1 John 3:11
  • And this is his commandment, that we ... love one another. 1 John 3:23
  • Beloved, let us love one another. 1 John 4:7
  • We also out to love one another. 1 John 4:11
  • If we love one another, God abides in us. 1 John 4:12
  • And now I ask you...that we love one another. 2 John 1:5
  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. John 13:34
  • All people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
  • This is my commandment, that you love one another. John 15:12
  • These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:17

John is not saying, “You don’t have to love people outside the family of God!” But what he is saying is that the first place we give and receive love is in the church.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?
— 1 John 4:20 NLT

Paul echoes this thought in Galatians 6:10: So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Today, I need to let the Spirit of God shine his flashlight in the inner recesses of my heart. How am I doing loving the family? Is there one within the church with whom I am at odds? Is there someone I am holding a grudge against? If so, I need to repent and make it right.

My motivation for this, of course, is God's love for me.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
— John 15:12 ESV

Too often my gaze is on the other guy, particularly on how hard it is to love the other guy. At these times I forget the amazing love God has shown me. Focusing on God's love for me is the solution to loving the difficult people around me.

Community is that place where the person
you least want to live with always lives.
— Parker Palmer

The community of faith is God's transformation place. He will use those "harder to love people" as his means to work more of his love in me -- and you! Who is that "doughnut hole" in your life God wants you to love? Give him (or her) what God has given you.