Authentic brotherly love and community
Meditated on this passage from my reading today:
As Dirk [Philips] writes, authentic brotherly love in the true congregation of God is demonstrated in the ways “that we minister to each other with a willingly extended hand, not only with the spiritual, but also with the temporal gifts which we have received from God.” (Biesecker-Mast, Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion, 192)
For Dirk Philips, a true congregation implied “a much broader idea of community that was generally associated with the notion of a religious congregation” (p. 190).
Community itself is more than just meeting together on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings. Community among believers, among a group of disciples, does not exist if they come together only once or twice a week. Ministering to one another using our God-given gifts—and that means something physical, tangible—is an absolute must. Coming together regularly, and then not-so-regularly but quite often, is when community is cultivated.
We need to share our time, energy, talents, money, and goods. That does not mean we reject completely the idea of owning any personal property (though there’s nothing wrong or evil with that). It means we are willing and ready to share within our community whatever is needed, whenever it’s needed. That we have come to a place where we love our neighbors so much we are pained by seeing any of them suffer a need, and without hesitation do what is in our power to help them out of their poverty; poverty being the lack of something.
It also means that we will be humble and open enough to let our community know when we have a need. That we will stop playing the martyr, “just bearing my cross,” card and allow the community to bless you just as you bless the others. If one person suffers, the whole community suffers.
Isn’t that how it should be?