If respect is the foundation for building bridges, then togetherness is a means to spanning the gaps that divide us. It is in these times of togetherness that love is realized and testifies of the greatness of our God. (John 13:34-35) How the togetherness happens is not much of an issue. It can be any type of gathering. The main issue is that the gathering be founded on respect, which will hopefully flourish into love for one another.
I’m currently reading a book by Scot McKnight called One.Life. In the chapter called God.Is.Love.Life, he recounts the parable of the lost son, contrasting the perspectives of the two sons after the younger’s arrival home. The younger son was repentant, realizing his sin on many levels and willing to do what it takes to reconnect with his father and his God. The older son was indignant, not willing to even be in the same room as his brother. What this spoke to me was that the pathway to togetherness is an outward, other’s centered perspective. If all we can see is our own right-ness and the need for others to come to us on our terms, togetherness will always be held hostage to performance over love.
We don’t know how the father would have responded if the son came back looking for more with the same disregard as he had previously attained it. We do know that the younger son did realize that everything was gone, except his father. He came to the realization that his father was enough, and from that position he was restored as a son. Another thing we do know, the father was waiting for his son to return.
So, if it is our desire to see bridges built with family, friends, and for the kingdom of God, may we, by God’s grace, be like the father in the parable, willing to embrace those who come our way with a heart of respect and with acts of love. The easiest way is to make sure there is “room at the table” when we are together.
Grace and peace,