This is the second part of a two part series about the essence of what holds living stones (us) together in community. In the previous post, I talked about a common misconception that is regularly taught about what holds us together. If you have not yet read that post, let me encourage you to give that a read before you continue reading this post. (Click here to read part I)
The True Glue of Community
As I stated in my previous post, friction / pressure is not the substance that holds the living stones together in community. Thank God for that. There is something much more glorious holding us together. Before I get into the substance of what is holding us together, I would like to talk about what I don’t want to do in this post.
First, I don’t want to give you a theological or sunday school answer that has little meaning outside of cranial conjecture. I have no appetite for cliche answers. For example, I’m not going to simply tell you that Jesus Christ is the glue that holds us together. Obviously, I believe that Jesus Christ is the glue that holds the living stones together in community. The problem with that statement, however, is the fact that it does not express how Christ is the substance or glue holding us together, and the evidence of this ignorance is all too often on display in our communities.
I’m convinced we need to have an understanding of how Christ is the glue that holds us together because the religious world is filled with jargons and statements that are true at face value, yet have no practical or realistic expression in day to day life. In today’s post, I hope to paint a picture of how Christ is the glue in a way that you have already been familiar with since childhood.
Relational love is a term that I’d like to use today for a reason. I don’t simply want to talk about love because that word can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be watered down in the most general or non-intimate of ways. I would like to talk about relational love because that helps clarify things a bit more.
God is love. His substance is love. His love is not simply theory or an idea, rather His love desires to be expressed to us and by us in a way that reflects His nature. In addition to being love, God is also relational within His own being. He is a complete family (Father, Mother/ Spirit, Son) within Himself. His love is expressed within Himself in a relational way.
Human beings were created in His image and likeness. As a result, we too are relational beings at our core. The more free we become, the more relational we will be. We, as people, are born into family to express these relationships. Immediately upon our arrival into the world, some type of relationship was established with our parents. If multiple children are birthed into the local family, then brother and sister relationships are established. These relationships grow, develop, and mature throughout life as we do. We had no choice in the matter of what family we were given.
Human family was created to be a picture of something greater, however. The very fact that there is something greater than human family was very controversial when Jesus first said it two thousand years ago, and I have found it to be just as controversial today. When Jesus said that His true family were those that belonged to His Father (Mat. 12:46-50), it was an unthinkable concept to His patriarchal culture. Who you were married to, and who your parents and family were defined your very identity in that culture.
Having an identity and life tied to your natural family wasn’t just unique to ancient Jewish culture, it’s true in ours as well. Although most would agree with Jesus’ statements about this at face value, truly loving and relating to someone who is NOT part of your natural family as though they were still raises suspicion and eye brows when lived out relationally.
The fact is this… The Lord is building something on the earth that overshadows the old order of things. He is building a new house. He is building a new family. Because He is relational, desiring to know and be known, He is building this house through relationship. Christ is expressed to both the seen and unseen realms through love, and the essence of love in us is unlocked through relationship. This is how we have been created. This is His likeness.
These relationships that hold the living stones together are divine in nature, not human in origin. There is a monumental difference between relationships birthed by human effort, and relationships birthed through divine revelation. If we look at the life of Jesus, we can see this clearly.
There were many who attached themselves to Him. There were many whom He loved. There were also many who left Him and did not align themselves with Him in the end, however. At the end of the day, it was only a few that He walked with in relationship. These are the relationships that endured. In His prayer that is recorded for us in John 17, the source and enduring nature of these relationships can be seen through Jesus’ words:
“I have manifested Your name to the people whom You gave Me out of the world; they were ‘Yours’ and You gave them to ‘Me’…” (John 17:6)
Jesus’ divine relationships originated with the Father, and were given to Him. Because we are reliving His life on the earth today, the same thing is occurring to us as well. It is glorious beyond description. Jesus Himself said that the world would know who were truly His by the way that this new family loves one another through the way they relate.
As glorious as divine relationships are, however, there is a lot of warfare that surround these relationships. I find this statement that Jesus made to be fascinating:
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions…” (Mark 10:29-30, NASB, emphasis mine)
It’s interesting that in this age, we inherit new familial relationships that bring along persecutions. There is a reason for that. Christ is opposed by the old order of things, and when people enter into true mother & father / brother & sister relationships with one another that are rooted in love by the Spirit, Christ begins to be truly expressed. Relational love is the substance of Christ that holds us together with one another.
A Major Obstacle To The New Family
When it comes to entering into relationship with one another, there is a major obstacle that stands in our way. Thankfully, this obstacle is being dismantled slowly but surely.
Generic titles vs. relational reality
Some believers use the term brother or sister as a title to refer to anyone in Christ. While that might be true theologically speaking, I’m convinced that our Lord is after something much more profound than simply adding the title of brother or sister to the vocabulary of how we talk about each other.
It’s an easy thing to call someone brother or sister and have cordial interactions with them from time to time, but it is heavenly to be able to have a true brotherly or sisterly relationship with someone in Christ. The same can also be said about having a motherly or fatherly relationship with someone in Christ. Christ is expressed, and the living stones are fused together through the relationship itself, not simply terminology.
Knowing someone as brother or sister, or mother or father, doesn’t come by attending meetings. We also are not birthed into these relationships simply because we have a common understanding of Christ and His church. The kingdom of God comes only by revelation.
That also means knowing one another as brother or sister, or mother or father, also comes by revelation. Our Lord is the Lord of relationship. He decides, we simply recognize what He is putting together and walk in those relationships. There need be no striving or obligation involved. No guilt. As we rest from our own agendas of control, we then can see and understand the relationships that He is putting together. Know that He is already doing a great job building His house, stone by stone. We are free from anything else. Any other house is built in vein and involves a lot of frustration.
Relating to someone through revelation is quite different than relating to someone out of obligation, duty, or human willpower. Relational love sourced from Christ can only be unlocked and entered into when that revelation is mutual. Without that revelation, all we have is terminology and we will not be able to enter into relationships with one another with confidence. The fears and pitfalls of relating to one another in this manner are overcome when we have a revelation of someone from the Spirit, however.
Holy ones, the house He is building is glorious beyond description. I’ve seen it. I’m seeing it. It’s much more profound than I thought. It’s also quite different than I originally thought. It’s not for the faint of heart, however. It involves loss. Tremendous loss. What I’ve gained far surpasses what I’ve lost, however. He is the glue that binds us together in these divine relationships, and His banner over us is love.