Helpful Practices in Our Life Together
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
It is easiest for people to get along in groups where everyone thinks the same things, believes the same things, has the same life experiences, and comes from the same racial, ethnic, economic, and social group. For a community that values diversity however, appreciating our differences can sometimes be a challenge. These are some practices that we have found to be helpful in living together as followers of Jesus:
- We practice loving each other the way that God loves us. It is our goal in all of our actions and communications with each other that we communicate the love of God. We practice treating each other the way we would like to be treated – when we are right, when we are wrong, when we are acting out of our brokenness, and when we are acting out of the beauty of Jesus that is in us.
- We practice giving each other space – space to be wrong, space to be different, space to believe differently, space to disagree, space to be unlovely, space to be difficult, space to be happy, space to become, space to grow. We trust God to occupy this space and draw each of us closer to God and work out the things we cannot. When needed, we use space-giving phrases like, “You could be right.” “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I recognize your opinion and we can agree to disagree.”
- We practice taking responsibility for our own actions, attitudes, and happiness.
- We practice cultivating a generous attitude toward others – giving others the benefit of the doubt. For example, instead of making a negative assumption about someone’s character by saying, “Jane is a jerk!” we might instead say, “Jane is having a hard time being nice right now.”
- We practice encouraging each other, praying for each other, and setting an example for each other over criticizing each other.
- We practice active listening and engaging in the work of understanding others. We recognize the importance of communicating personal things in person.
- We practice prioritizing HOW we disagree over WHAT we disagree about, knowing that how we disagree often says more about our faithfulness to Jesus than our stance on the particular issue on which we disagree.
- We practice both forgiveness and setting healthy boundaries. This means that we forgive each other’s debts easily but sometimes we might find it necessary to adjust the credit score (trust). This is one of the important ways that we show love and respect both to ourselves and to each other.