Family: Defined by Love Relationship
How did you start?
In the early 80’s there were some really spectacular things happening. Many of us, myself included, were a part of an institutional setting and in the mid 80’s it felt like a compulsion from God to really simplify back to just the basics of what Christianity is, without all the bells and whistles, trappings, programs and mortgages, and all the external things that sort of push us.
At the end of 1985 and the beginning of 1986, several people including myself moved to a city in the Midwest, Indianapolis. All of us had different kinds of “church” backgrounds, but the common thread was that we just wanted the bare, simplest form of walking with Jesus, the way Jesus did with the twelve.
In spite of all the good things we had seen God do in the environment we were in—and one could consider it to have been a revival where a lot of spectacular things had happened in both miracle and conversion forms. It was very special. But at the same time, when you read your Bible there wasn’t any such thing as everybody dressing up to attend a building and listen to a speech and then go home and live their life the way they wanted. That’s just not in the Bible even though it’s universal no matter what country you’re in.
Whether it’s a village in India or a town in Kenya, that’s pretty much the universal concept of what Christianity is. You have a “boss” or “teacher” or “holy man” or “pastor” that’s in charge of this thing and people file in and get their Sunday-morning-thing and then they go home. Other than a program or two, that’s what most people in the world (not everybody of course) consider to be Christianity.
There have been a lot of movements over the years, Moravians included, that say, “Christianity is really a LOT more than that.” But the way the normal religious world practices Christianity is Sunday-morning-based with a “preacher” and a few programs. And if you’re really sharp you add in a bread kitchen or an evangelism program or something to spice it up to fill in some of the holes (and very few people even participate in them).
But our basic thought was: “This is HOW all men will know you’re my disciples, is by the love you have one for another.” Wow, that’s not very complicated. It’s not easy, but it’s not complicated. :) You loving me and me loving you isn’t easy, but it’s not complicated.
So that’s how we started was with a mutual agreement that loving Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and strength without all the trappings was totally necessary. We weren’t hiding behind a program or forum or a structure, but just loving each other. It was blue jeans and t-shirt style, figuratively speaking. It was being relaxed and trying to love each other into greatness and trying to seek and save that which is lost. We weren’t trying to bring them to something. We were trying to bring them to Him and whatever He wanted to do was His business. If they became a part of our lives, that’s great too.
We were just going to do our best as we imagined that God dropped the Bible out of the sky and said, “Here’s what a church is. You be this kind of church. Here’s what leadership is and it’s not what you’re used to. It’s not what you’ve been accustomed to your whole life of a man being a leader because he went to seminary and knows the Bible. He gives a speech and everybody else listens like it’s on a movie screen or something and then you go home.”
Rather, it’s a Quality of life seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, as friends of Jesus and friends of one another and like a family would be in the home. It’s not about the calendar. You don’t “start” your family at 9:00 in the morning and “end” it at 11:00 in the morning. It’s just your family! You might do some things together within a certain time block, but the family is defined by your love-relationship and it takes on a different view, a different look, a different dimension, a different feel from day to day, week to week and year to year. The dynamics are always changing. One year is totally unlike the next year, totally! The common Quality is Love and Relationship and a growing maturity but not form and function.
And so we figured if we didn’t have the ability to be as different next year as we were this year in family, then we probably weren’t really looking at it through His eyes and functioning His way, the way Jesus did. The way Acts 2 describes this dynamic was, “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” It wasn’t just a few, a “committed nucleus,” but it was everybody! Even baby Christians, which is what they all were except for the 120 in the upper room. For the 3000, this was all brand new to them! They were passionate about Jesus, and their lifestyles took a back seat. They were together.
That was our desire too in a really simple way. It wasn’t a goal. We didn’t really “start” per se. We weren’t trying to accomplish anything or start anything. We were just trying to be in love with Jesus and learn how to love each other. And if that was contagious enough for other people to care enough to pay attention to, that’s fine too. But it wasn’t a “way” to “do” something that we were after, as much as it was to get rid of a way to not do something and just simplify to Christianity.
So that’s something of what happened in late 1985 and early 1986, and there’s not a regret in all those years. A lot of tears, but no regrets.