Greater love has no man than this: that he lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
By this we know we have passed out of death and into life: because we love our brothers. (1 John 3:14)
It’s my cook day. Things have been busy in the kitchen since 5:45 am. The breakfast dishes were scarcely dry before I started supper preparations for our household of sixteen people. Some friends came by unexpectedly for lunch; there was just enough to feed everyone, even dessert. Now I’m holding someone’s baby, watching one of the men wash the lunch dishes. He has a lot of other things to do, but somehow he has put them aside to help me out. I tell him twice to feel free to stop — stop any time, I can finish up — but he wants to do just a few more, and more, and more.
Today it dawned on me more fully why we live together, we who follow Yahshua, the Messiah. It is so we can love each other. We lay down our lives for each other, as no other people can. We can’t help but see our brothers’ needs: the pile of dirty dishes, an unexpected load of baby laundry, or that pair of threadbare socks on the clothesline. We even notice, perhaps more importantly, the downcast face or averted eyes that show unspoken suffering.
If we lived across town, or even next door, or in the same apartment building, it wouldn’t be close enough. We wouldn’t see these needs. Even if we did, it wouldn’t be often enough to demand our whole life — that we deny ourselves continually in favor of our brother’s best interest.
I know a lot of people seek to meet the needs of others, sometimes even at great cost to themselves. But this is not the same as living so intimately with your friends that their needs become your own. The honest truth is, unless you are family, you will only give yourself to help others when it fits in with what is going on with you. When you live together as a family, you either turn your back on your brother, or you learn to deny yourself in order to love him. Even the things you do daily to survive, such as working to support yourself, or preparing food, or cleaning house, are no longer done for yourself alone.
By this we know love: that our Master Yahshua laid down His life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for each other. This life together is the fire that purifies us, so that we become like our Master.
I don’t want any other life. Community didn’t “save” me in the sense of forgiving my sins. No, Yahshua did that. But this life does save me in the sense of making me fit to rule and reign in His kingdom with Him. It saves me daily as I’m trained to love. I don’t want any other life. I want to live with my brothers and sisters and experience all of their problems and joys and victories, with them. I don’t want any of their needs to go unmet because no one was there to see. We are committed to each other for life. We don’t love perfectly yet, but it is our heart’s desire.