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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This verse came to mind tonight after having a small but beloved group over for dinner.

When we love like Jesus, any would-otherwise-be hinderance to a friendship is tossed.

The quiet, loud, shy, gregarious, man, woman, rich, poor, educated, not as classically educated, professional, amateur, minister, laymen, mom, dad, child, grandparent, single, newly married (I could go on and on) find their place. Even the most massive cultural differences are laid aside when we chooses to see, or at least, attempt to see, the heart of another, and truly love it.

That’s what Jesus does. Imagine if his church, all those who profess to know him, were as open to one another? What if we stopped rejecting anyone who doesn’t look, act, think, or behave like us? (This doesn’t mean truth does not matter and values don’t matter… bear with me).

But there’s a catch: you can’t fake this type of love. Love has to have a solid foundation. Unity is only authentic if there is a shared vision—a shared goal. If the goal is not the same, it won’t work.

When we choose to be people who want Christ revealed in and through our lives, we will find connection with others who feel the same. Discussions will be vibrant. Alive. Love, acceptance, even when there are differences of opinion, will be the result. Because, people who are truly wanting to be like Jesus can’t reject their brother or sister who is different or voted differently or even has a different theological view. They choose to see into the heart, engage, speak what they believe is truth in order to make an impact, and listen to others and be willing to be impacted. There is no fear in love.

In short: We don’t show up for dinner just to fill our own plate and have a good time. We show up to share and have others share with us. We choose to listen and accept and learn from one another. This is fellowship.

Stephanie Staples

Author Stephanie Staples

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