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Monday, March 20, 2017

A Lenten Healing: 40 Graces for Forgiveness (Day 17: Community)

Jesus lived in community.
Occasionally I’ll hear a sermon about community, and it always raises my hackles. I lean like the Tower of Pisa toward Me-and-God-and-Who-Needs-the-Rest-of-the-World? in my outlook on community.
That’s so very bogus, as I’ve learned much of what I know about God, and the Bible, and myself, and the kingdom of heaven, and my place in it through sermons and Bible studies and the iron-sharpening-iron experience of living in community.
But it’s an enormous temptation for me to choose to close my door on society and live inside my own bubble of safety. Right now I’m in a new situation, and I’m so reluctant to get to know anyone or to let anyone get to know me, that I’m refusing opportunities every chance I get.
The truth is I’m afraid of other people. And I’d like to not have to interact with any but the few I already know and trust.
That’s not really an option, if I want to live biblically, though.
For the scripture today I pulled out a not-exhaustive list of one-anothers. There are quite a lot of them. And I can’t do any of them if I choose to live as a fearful, resentment-saturated island.

* * *
be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50)
wash one another's feet (John 13:14)
love one another (John 13:34)
outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
welcome one another (Romans 15:7)
wait for one another (1 Corinthians 11:33)
care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
comfort one another, agree with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11)
serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32)
[submit] to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13)
stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
do not speak evil against one another (James 4:11)
do not grumble against one another (James 5:9)
confess your sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16)
keep loving one another earnestly (1 Peter 4:8)
show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
clothe yourselves… with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5)
have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)

* * *
Okay, God. I know where I’m wrong on this one, and I’ve been choosing to remain wrong, because it feels safer. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite ready to choose doing right in this area. I’m pretty terrified about opening myself up to new people and situations. I’d rather keep to the fringe, tread water at the surface, maintain a polite distance and indifference. But you’re not on board with that. So I’ll just ask that you’ll be my shield as I go forward. I can advance, as long as I know that you’re there with me, and you want me to be there, and you’ll keep me safe. I know there’s blessing to be found in community. I’m going to try to walk toward it.

40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey is now available in print. $6.49 at

With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.

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