Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Thought

“There are two ways; one of life and one of death!  And there is a great difference between the two ways.  The way of life is this: first, you shall love God who made you.  And second, love your neighbor as yourself.  Do not do to another what you would not want done to you.  The meaning of these sayings is this: bless those who curse you, pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you.  For what reward is there for loving those who love you?  Do not the heathens do the same?  But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies.” Didache 1:1-3

The significance of this document called “Didache” is that it not only summarizes what the writers believed to be important as what was taught by the apostles (Acts 2:42), but the whole of this document (much like the Bible itself) was written perhaps for a specific community as instruction on how they should live with one another – including those they don’t get along with!  The early Church understood itself in a communal context in that while certainly redeemed from the bondage of sin, they were especially brought into a community of faith.  It is believed a particular community “owned” this document much like the Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to have belonged to the community of the Essenes.  It was the community’s understanding of its moral and social obligations to one another for the good of the community in addition to having specific instructions on the Lord’s Supper.

This was at the heart of the early Methodist movement which embraced the value of the faith community and the mutual support that comes with being so connected.  While there were surely personal spiritual experiences, these experiences were understood in a much broader context in which nothing – and no one – was taken for granted. 

The Church today must recapture the essence of the early Church which understood its relationship to the Lord within its active and ongoing relationship with one another; Jesus taught as much Himself as did St. John when he wrote: “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another …” (1 John 1:7).  Loving the Lord AND our neighbor are intimately connected.  It is highly unlikely anyone was so “personally saved” that they felt free to disconnect themselves from the community of faith, understanding the need for such community support especially when things got tough – and things got very tough!

Let us find that Way in which we can learn to reengage in such an uplifting way that we find our social circle of real friends to be much bigger than we previously thought.  Then we will find the way in which to invite others in who feel disconnected and alienated – just as our Lord did.



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