... is super hard. Yet lots of people try to do it.
"Christians" try to do it. It's a primary bi-product of the "personal Lord and Savior" jargon of evangelism tracts. They say, "I don't need anyone. I have Jesus and that's enough." (bypassing entire chapters, themes, and books of the Bible that clearly say otherwise) Nevertheless, in church it manifests itself every Sunday around our country with tens of thousands who are just sitting in a seat, taking notes, maybe even giving... and then leaving. I blogged about the dangers of this a couple of years ago here.
"Others" try to do it alone too. Christian or not, the pursuit of a "solo faith" is popular today. This crowd claims, "I don't need others to help me connect with God, my faith is private." Perhaps we even affirm this belief when we simply watch "christian church" in our house, hear it on the radio, or live-stream it on the web and call that community... and perhaps it's even borderline arrogant to claim I don't need anyone else to help me. Besides, it's really really hard to keep a private faith private cuz faith has it's way of leaking out into every area of our lives. We bleed our spiritual convictions in our behaviors. So we might as well invite others to explore them with us anyway.
This has been spurred up in me recently because our entire church has been doing a series called "Jesus Creed" in which we've been memorizing and repeating a passage in Mark in which Jesus summarizes the entire Bible in. In this text, Jesus was famously asked just one question, "What is the greatest commandment?" To which Mark records:
““The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”” (Mark 12:29–31)
As I've memorized this answer and repeated it and tried to live this call out in my life these past few weeks. It has become crystal clear to me that while the essential core of "Love God and Love others" is as simple a bumper sticker calling as one can get, it is radically other and intensely hard to honor. It is SIMPLE. But it is NOT EASY.
... AND I cannot go this thing alone. (obviously there's a philosophical irony here too, cuz it's impossible to "love others" alone anyway. That's an oxymoron.) I'm radically aware that I desperately need others to do this with or I simply won't do it. Loving God with all of me and loving others like I want to be loved, requires all of the grace from God I can muster and all of the help from my community of faith as I can gather.