As human beings created in the image of God, we are built for companionship. In some ways, we are a copy and extension of the communal life the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a communal life which expresses itself through the ongoing giving and receiving between each person of the trinity. With that in mind, Jesus’ despondency over his disciple’s inability/unwillingness to stay awake and pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion is not only understandable; it pulls at the very fabric of what it means to be both human and divine.
When mutual giving/receiving breaks between us and those around us (our neighbors), there is a noticeable disorientation to life, both inside our own chest and in our day-to-day actions. Often, we wait for the other to give first in order to jump start the cycle of giving/receiving, but Jesus doesn’t do that in Gethsemane. Even though he has been abandoned by his companions in this moment, he leads the way back to the virtuous cycle of giving/receiving by continuing to pour himself out. It’s a trust in God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, to be sure; but in a strange way he’s also placing trust in his fellow companions (disciples). He’s cultivating a ‘long-game’ trust with them, one that will only see the restoration of giving/receiving long after the worst of the cross.
Loving our neighbor means transcending our basic unrest in a disrupted giving/receiving cycle. As Christians, we follow the way of Jesus and continue to pour ourselves out to one another – Jesus calls it taking up your cross daily – knowing and trusting that the good work of giving will lead to, in some way, a restoration of the cycle of giving/receiving in our lives and in the lives of our neighbors.
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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor?
About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC