Saturday, August 21, 2010

Learning Laboratories of Love

I have been reflecting on this quote from Ken Wilson's book, "Jesus Brand Spirituality: He Wants His Religion Back." I hope the book blesses others as much as it has blessed me.

Jesus brand spirituality is a path that leads beyond individualism toward community. Community is where we practice the skills of cooperation - of love, mutual respect, forbearance, conflict resolution, forgiveness, the balance between stating our own needs and taking concern for the needs of others.

Jesus is in the business of forming such communities. He came to form a movement, a social network, a corporate enterprise organized around his teaching and empowered by his presence. The Greek word for such communities is ecclesia (translated "church"), meaning "called out" or "gathered ones" ...

Jesus prepared hsi first disciples to participate in these communities by giving them a new commandment: "you must love one another" (John 13:34). The New Testament writings have about forty such sayings, including "love one another," "forgive one another," "correct one another," and "bear with one another." Communities that formed around a shared commitment to Jesus become laboratories where these sayings are practiced.

It's not a picnic. Or if it is, there's plenty of potato salad sitting out in the sun too long. These communities are not the perfect family you always dreamed of. From the earliest times, these communities achieved mixed results. At times, they almost seemed to be little conclaves of heaven on earth; at other times, judging from the earliest records, they were racked with dissension and conflict.

The Jesus communities were never conceived of as utopias. They are learning laboratories of forgiving love. They are messy places where we make mistakes in relating to others and practice the repair mechanism that Jesus stressed so heavily in his teaching ... The primary repair mechanism is forgiveness.