love is our witness, community is our evidence

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So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35

There are countless things that I love about our church home. If I had the time, I’d enjoy creating a book that features a thousand photographs and a thousand testimonies, telling the story of love, grace, and joyful witness here in Wake Forest.

img_6248It’s a powerful truth to say that love heals. Love poured out through this community – and beyond – lifts Rebekah’s spirits and brings her closer to restoration every day. Our home has been flooded with flowers, with cards, with food, and with the presence of Jesus in the person of so many beautiful people.

There is light, and life, and grace, and indescribable beauty in authentic community. In fact, if I don’t write anything else all week long (or if you don’t read any of it!), I want this idea to lodge inside your hearts, your minds, and your deep spiritual self: We were created for community by the Father, we were equipped for community by Jesus, and we are called into community by the Holy Spirit.

We were created for community by the Father, we were equipped for community by Jesus, and we are called into community by the Holy Spirit.

Let that one resonate for a moment, “We are called into community by the Spirit.”

NOT JUST FOR BELIEVERS:

img_6247This is where I think that my message is more than a call for disciples to live faith out loud, but stands as an invitation into community for all people!

There are many reasons to show up at your local church, and it’s my conviction that there is a place here for you on the basis of community, even if you’re not yet ready to walk through the gate Jesus has opened into a relationship with God.

If this hard experience with pain, with surgery, with time in the hospital, and with disappointingly slow recovery is telling me anything, it’s a huge reminder that the Body of Christ is not only something unique, but that it is exactly what the world needs – and in a big way!

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone… (Jackie DeShannon)

The classic song, What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love exactly articulates the work of the Gospel. I’ve been attacked before (not an exaggeration) over my use of the phrase, “The Gospel of Love.” “Don’t you believe in the Gospel of Judgment?” a man challenged me more than once – and with various nuances – arguing that my emphasis on love is too one dimensional.

My answer is that we live in a culture sadly dominated by judgment, law, belligerence, control, argument, the obsession with being right, the obsession with others being wrong, and so many people being against everything rather than for something.  Not only that, but we live in a faith culture that – too often – tends to look exactly that way too! Well, the invitation of the good news about Jesus is the call to saturate one another, our local community, and the greater world with the imperative of love.

img_6242-001Love invites people into relationship with one another, and ultimately with God. I have seen this played out in so many ways over the years, and it is the greatest witness – potentially – that we have in this fractious, contentious world.

Nowhere have I seen this so eloquently articulated than here, in Wake Forest, during this time when we are experiencing so much challenge in terms of health.

What the world needs now is love sweet love. Well, world, we’ve got some of that, and in abundant supply here in Wake Forest. We’d love to share it with many more of you; it’s that important, and it’s that redemptive.

– DEREK

One comment

  1. Beautiful, uplifting words. Thank you!
    And please give Rebekah a (gentle) hug from me. Hang in there. It’s not easy being the nurse for someone you love who is in pain. Glad your faith community is looking out for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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