I am reading a small little book this summer, by a man named Brennan Manning. The book is entitled: The Furious Longing of God. Like much of Manning’s writing, it is not ‘new’ stuff that he puts forth. It is simply the gospel as it is meant to be lived. The following passage caught my reflection this week.
“The apostle Paul may have understood the mind of Jesus better than anyone who ever lived. He sums up his whole understanding of the message of Jesus in Galatians 5:6, when he writes, “the only thing that matters is faith that expresses itself in love.” According to Paul’s criterion for greatness in the New Israel of God, the person who is the most Christ-like, closest to the heart of Abba, is not the one who spends the most time in prayer. It’s not the one who has the most PhD’s. It’s not the one who has the most responsibility entrusted to his care. It’s not the pastor of the biggest mega-church. No, it’s the one who loves the most. That’s not my opinion. Those are the words in Galatians 5 that will judge us….
…How have we gotten it so screwed up? I was speaking to the Navigators (editor’s. note – Navigators = a Christian discipleship group with emphasis on study of the Scriptures) and they asked: “Do you have a word for us?” I said: “Yes, I do.”
“Instead of being identified as a community that memorizes Scripture, why not be identified as a community of professional lovers that causes people to say: “How they love one another!” Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm them or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange. If we as a Christian community took seriously that the sign of our love for Jesus is our love for one another, I am convinced it would change the world. We’re denying to the world the one witness Jesus asked for: Love one another as I’ve loved you. (John 15:12)
Let me repeat that, again in his words. “You’re going to be identified as His disciples by one sign only: the deep and delicate respect you have, the cordial love impregnated with reverence for the sacred dimension of the human personality you find in your brothers and sisters…”
This is enough to pray into for a lifetime, I think…