To be fully know and fully loved; I believe this is the heart of each human being – it is the way we were created. Yes, there are some who put on airs, playing the tough-guy persona, and maybe have done so for long enough they really do believe there is no going back or, possibly, their heart has become so hardened they no longer even consider it. Nonetheless, we were created to give and receive love, to live in community, and to live out our unique God-given purpose.
As I write this it is September 15th, so this morning I read Proverbs chapter 15. This is a practice I learned from a pastor of mine in college who always read each day’s corresponding Proverb. As I read, two verses gave me pause; “A greedy and grasping person destroys community; those who refuse to exploit live and let live.” (v. 27) and “And undisciplined, self-willed life is puny, an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.” (v.32) MSG.
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about community, the importance of “doing life together” in our homes, our churches, and our communities. Scripture tells us “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;” (John 10:10 NIV). One of his primary tools is isolation.
Ross Parsley points out in his book Messy Church, “The truth is most of us end up preferring isolation in our church. It’s safer and there’s no risk of getting hurt. I’ve got my relationship with Jesus and you’ve got yours. If I need some help, I’ll open up – a little – maybe, and receive the initial benefits of community, but as for laying my heart out there to a group of people who may leave or abuse it, that’s not going to happen.” As to the reason for this thought process Parsley says, “When a family fights in a divorce culture, the great fear is that someone might leave.” So, we choose isolation out of fear.
So, how did verses about a greedy and grasping person, or an undisciplined, self-willed life lead me here? To be fully-known and fully-loved requires vulnerability. Love cannot be fully known without risk. When someone is “greedy and grasping” they are by nature self-focused, which as the Proverb says, destroys community. At that, people retreat and are more prone to isolate. As for the other verse; while those who “grasp” may also attain status, power, and wealth, in the end if that is the only motivation, it is truly a “puny” life.
It is only in living an “obedient God-willed” life we can Live Big, which of course is not about getting, but giving. It is not self-focused, but is lived in community. And as Ross Parsley reminds us it may be messy, but it is also full.