By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
The over-arching theme of all that we do here at the Catch — indeed for Christians everywhere — is love. It is the driving force in the Bible and in all Christian communities. In fact, I propose calling the Catch community a community of love. I prefer it to “church” (even though we are a church) because it describes what it is. “Church” these days is anybody’s guess. It can be the building down the street, a service once a week, an institution with paid staff and traditionally-defined roles, or a small group gathering in a home. All communities of love are not necessarily churches, but all churches are communities of love, or at least they should be.
They should be because Christ told us that love for one another was how we would be recognized as belonging to Him (John 13:35). It’s our love for each other that is the identifying factor of our union to Christ.
Think about what a community of love is like. Everyone is welcome. There are no entry requirements for a community of love.
Those in a community of love are coming to realize that you cannot love without realizing that you are loved, and that all of this originates from God, the giver of all perfect gifts. Like grace turned outward, you have to know grace inward before you can turn it outward, and grace inward involves a great deal of vulnerability and humility. It involves coming to the end of oneself and being reduced to accepting the free, undeserved grace of God. To people used to earning everything, that is not an easy thing to do.
Love works the same way. We must know we are loved before we can love. And that is not an automatic thing. Knowing you are loved is more than an intellectual belief. It is a space and time experience of God. You can’t engineer it, mandate it, manipulate it, copy it, sell it, or buy it. Experiencing God is unique to each one of us, but it is real and undeniable and known deep in the heart. When Jesus says to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, that means that we all need to find out first if we know we are loved. We cannot love without that.