“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4: 11-12, ESV)
One of my favorite movies is While You Were Sleeping. It’s a light romantic comedy, but it happens to illustrate very well the need we all have for love and acceptance. In the story Lucy (played by Sandra Bullock) is a young woman who’s feeling pretty alone in the world. Her mother died when she was very small and her father raised her. But then he died of cancer a year or so before the story opens. Lucy lives in Chicago and works as a token taker for the elevated train system. Then one day she saves the life of a handsome young man (his name is Peter Callahan) who gets mugged on the train platform on Christmas Day. He’s taken to the hospital and remains in a coma for several days. Due to a misunderstanding, Lucy is introduced to his family as his fiancée. What ensues is very funny, but also very touching. Peter’s family embraces Lucy and takes her into their hearts. They invite her over for a belated Christmas dinner and do everything they can to make her feel welcome. It’s hard to tell them the truth because she loves being part of a family again. She sees that they aren’t perfect, but they love and care for each other. Of course, before the end of the movie, Lucy has to tell them that she’s not really Peter’s fiancé, but she discovers more love and acceptance than she had ever expected.
I think the church is lot like the Callahan family – not perfect and given to rambling conversations at the dinner table, but full of love and acceptance if we will only be open to it. It took Lucy several days to get up the courage to tell the truth. In the meantime, she got to know the Callahans better and got more comfortable with them. It takes most of us a while to get comfortable with our church family, but it’s worth the time and effort it takes. There needs to be a willingness to give and a willingness to accept one another. But that’s how the church is supposed to function. We’re the family of God and it’s Christ’s blood that holds us together.
Sometimes it’s hard to be authentic — there’s risk in exposing the truth about yourself. But like Lucy discovered, unless we take the risk of being hurt, we’ll never get to experience love.