My greatest desire currently is to see the Kingdom of God engage with Chicago – our hometown. This will only happen by way of the followers of Jesus loving one another. Although loving one another may seem like an inward focus, it is in reality an outward connection point with society.
Jesus addresses this kingdom principle twice. First he tells his disciples that everyone will know that they are his disciples by their love for one another (John 13:34-35). Then, later in the same evening, Jesus prayed for his disciples, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even you have loved me” John 17.23). In other words, our unity is a testimony to the culture that the Father sent Jesus into the world and that the Father loves his children.
Christianity has tried many approaches to engage society. We have retooled our church services to be more relevant, served the city through community projects; we have become involved in politics and launched media campaigns. Though I do not question the sincerity behind these efforts, I have wondered about their effectiveness.
Brene Brown observed,
“…connection is why we are here. It is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Connection is how we are neurobiologically wired.”
We were made to belong. Our culture promotes individualism and yet our hearts long to be integrated. Though it seems un-American to be interdependent the only way I can find identity is in connection with others. The gospel, if anything, is about belonging.
The morning after my cancer surgery, the surgeon came into my room and asked, “Who are you?”
I was puzzled by his question, and thought to myself, You just operated on me yesterday, and we were up close and personal even if I was asleep the whole time. I hope you can at least remember who I am?
Perhaps sensing that I was confused by his question, he explained that after surgery, when he went to the waiting room and asked to talk to the Clark family, a group of white, black, young, and old all stood up and walked toward him. One older gentleman had spoken for the group and said, “Yes, we’re the Clark family. We’re a different kind of family, but we’re Lewie’s family.”
Then the doctor repeated his question, “Who are you?”
A doctor who sees hundreds of patients and has done thousands of surgeries noted an instance of belonging.
At that moment I was flooded with a sense of belonging. I had known that God was watching over me during my illness, but it brought such added relief to know that he had also surrounded me with a group of people who had taken my burden as their own.
 Brown, Brene (2010, The Power of Vulnerability, Retrieved September 14, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0)