“Ordinary people have the power to change other people’s lives. This power to meaningfully change lives doesn’t depend on advice, though counsel and rebuke play a part; nor on insight, though self-awareness that disrupts complacency and points toward new understanding is important. No, this power to change lives comes from connecting, on bringing two people into an experience of shared life” (25). Hence, one of the many reasons why in the very beginning, God said that it was “not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Now, a “Gospel community is built upon the shared lives of believers who have given their lives to Jesus Christ and now live for Him. What stands at the center of a New Covenant community are forgiven people who have caught a glimpse of Christ, and in whom the Spirit now uses that glimpse to create goodness within them, a goodness that defines who we are” (11). No longer does our sinfulness define us, because Jesus has taken our sinfulness upon Himself at the Cross and in return has imputed (accredited) to us His righteousness. This is the Gospel.
Simply put, we have traded our sinfulness for Jesus’ righteousness and in the process have been fully forgiven. “When God forgives us for violating His design, He pours His life into us; and that restores our capacity to connect, first with Him, then with others. He makes us alive with the actual life of Christ, so that the impulses that energized Jesus’ life on earth are actually in us. This is what being alive in Christ means” (29). It is no longer we who live, but Jesus who lives in and through us (Galatians 2:20). “When believers can offer one another a taste of the delight of Christ that lives within them, they begin to impact one another in a profound way and they start to change for the better because they touch one another with the transforming power of the love of God. When believers make meaningful soul connections with one another their love grows and deepens because we were designed to connect, first with God and then with each other” (45).
In my book, both greater relational capacity (1 John 1:7) and love (1 John 2:10) are sure markers of life. I know I say this a lot, but love is a relational concept. In order for love to be fully realized there needs to be a relationship in place. God created us out of love, for love and to love, which from my perspective means He created us for relationship. “Connecting is life. Loneliness is the ultimate horror. In connecting with God, we gain life. In connecting with others, we nourish and experience that life as we freely share it. Believers have the capacity to enjoy the wonder of a relationship built on grace that no angel has ever personally experienced because fallen angels are not forgiven and unfallen angels don’t need to be” (45). It’s within this eternally redeemed community that believers experience the love and joy that comes from a loving Savior who calls them beloved. As the old saying goes, “to love is to live.” But, I would add to love one another is to truly live.
So this is my prayer: that the Lord would increase our ability to love, that He would grow and mature us in understanding the Father’s love and that He would place in us a courage and boldness to love in any and every situation and with everyone. Help us Lord to fully embrace the reality that we are Your beloved in whom You delight and are well-pleased with. In Jesus, Amen.
*excerpts from Larry Crabb, Connecting (1997)