Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
This is a motley crew of people. I like to think that we would all be friends if we’d just met randomly along the way, but we wouldn’t. Our personal circumstances wouldn’t have allowed it. But, because everyone in this picture loves Jesus and had a desire to build a community in our town, we were all bound together. We truly believed that God had brought us together to form a church — and that’s what we worked toward for a couple of years. That is not what ultimately came to pass in a literal sense, but as I look at this picture, I see a group of people (and there are more who, sadly, aren’t in this picture) who worshiped together, took communion together, baptized one another, ministered to one another and loved each other when we weren’t necessarily loveable. Most of all, through all of that, we learned together. We learned to live a life that wasn’t easy and built relationships that were sometimes (often times) messy. We were learning to be missionaries in our families, our neighborhoods, our cities and our world.
And, now…most of us are scattered all over the place. In each of these people, I can see that they are tangibly living out the Gospel in their new contexts. And, I realize that God was building his church. Not in a building, but in the lives of the people who follow him. I read Phillipians, Chapter 1 with an appreciation of the love that Paul had for the people that he served alongside…because every time I think of them, I thank God for them. (Phil 1:3)