Tenacious CommUNITY

Tenacious community













One of my favorite quotes is taken from a book entitled, The Three Battlegrounds by Francis Frangipane. Do you want to know if your Christianity is the real deal or just empty religion? There is a litmus test:

“Is your love growing softer, brighter and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.”

In four sentences, Francis strips everything about our faith down to the core essential issue: Is God’s love alive in us? Is it tangible, available and active? If it is just a philosophy or system of thought, than Christianity could just as well be another moral code.

We have all allowed a stronghold of “cold love” to take root in us at one time or another. Fortunately, if we are really pursuing Jesus, he doesn’t allow us to stay there. His love for us transforms us and compels us to love others out of sheer gratitude and joy.

If love is so important, where, when and how do we turn up the heat on our love for others? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. The general concept of love is too broad and vague. What does Jesus love look like?

Jesus communed with people. The definition of the word commune is: “to share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with someone, especially when the exchange is on a spiritual level.”

The organization I work with is called New York City Relief. NYCR takes almost 7,000 volunteers a year on outreach to the homeless in our mobile soup kitchens/resource centers known as The Relief Buses.

Josiah Community
























On The Relief Bus outreach, Josiah Haken, Vice President of Outreach Operations (above) teaches volunteers not to think of what we are doing as charity, but instead as communion. We are endeavoring to connect on a deep relational level with those challenged with homelessness. In other words, we are pursuing intimacy. This is what Jesus love looks like.

CommUNION can only be done in CommUNITY. Community is where those who are separated become unified into one heart and one spirit. Creating community is nurturing a richness of relationship with those who might be literally starving for love. Mother Teresa said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”

Our friends experiencing homelessness are isolated. In a city environment where they are surrounded by millions of people, they are many times completely alone, because they do not have relationships that truly bring life and healing.

Brett in bus























A man named Darnell who was struggling with addiction and despair came to The Relief Bus for help. When talking to Outreach Leader Brett Hartford (above), he said, “When you are going through stuff in life and bad stuff happens, you need people. You need others to share those sufferings with. Someone that will come beside you to say, “It’s okay, you can do it. Just keep on going. It will be okay.”

Darnell’s words echo God’s mandate in Romans 12:9, 15,16

Love must be sincere…Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

The Jesus kind of love embraces those who are different than us. It pulls in the outsider who has been rejected by society. It befriends those who are on the fringe and pulls them into the inner circle of intimacy. The outcasts are transformed into brothers and sisters, family that we will lay our lives down for.

At New York City Relief, our staff community motto is “Fighting for each other’s hearts.” This phrase expresses the intense intentionality it takes to connect at a heart level. If it is not pursued intently, the opposite of community naturally happens: cliques, disjointedness, and offense.

Hebrews 10:24,25 is one verse that provokes us into pursuing a deep community life where Jesus love can thrive and spread.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,

Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

If you want love to come alive in you, you must dive deeper into the place where the Jesus kind of love happens: commUNITY.

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