If months had themes, July would go down in history for me as “love month.” For one, the text of our Bible study at church has been First John, which uses the word “love” more times than the hippie manifesto. Secondly, I’ve been working on my seminar “Love in the Last Days” for a presentation next month. Last but not least, I had my family reunion.
Eleven people slept in my three-bedroom house. There were uncles puzzled into beds too short for them, mothers on pullouts, cousins strewn on the floor. Meals were equally freeform, whether tailgating at a New Jersey beach or having a Sunday morning waffle extravaganza on paper plates. The greatest challenge was organizing and directing the activities, which had to be spontaneously planned according to the weather. Although we hit the beaches, a couple restaurants and some tourist sites, the high point for me was probably playing Cranium with my nephews Shawn and Gavin. Isn’t it telling that the most memorable activities are often free?
As the relatives gradually departed, the house fell into a contrasting silence. That silence will swell to deafening when the girls go back to school. People are a terrible inconvenience, but life—and our house—is quite empty without them. The wise man said, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean,” Proverbs 14:4. I’ll take oxen and dirt.
What’s my point? Simply that we are designed for connection. It’s as if people are born with one-sided Velcro on their hearts, capable of adhering to others. No! It’s more than that, because Velcro doesn’t hurt or hunger. It’s that we’re made in God’s image, and “God is love,” 1 John 4:18. If All-sufficiency can long for connection, then His creation all the more. Unfortunately, many human relationships fail, leaving this hunger unsatisfied. Our essential selfishness folds us inward like shriveled wineskins, reducing capacity and rendering relationships either non-existent or dysfunctional.
But there’s hope. The Scriptures reveal a God who can connect with the unconnected. Regardless of how wrong our human relationships have gone; regardless of the depths of our isolation or the death-grip of our human conflicts, we can at any point turn to Him and know that we are loved. I don’t know of another worldview that has this to offer.
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