The gap between the “ideal” and what is seen in practice can be frustrating and stifling. This is especially true with Jesus’ teachings: “Love one another, just as I have loved you”, and “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We all long to see this Christian ideology being practiced, but it remains an elusive dream.  How can anyone do as Jesus did, to love someone to the point of laying down one’s life?

       Perhaps, ‘laying down one’s life’ is not meant to be the target, but the direction! Look at how John the apostle recorded Jesus’ last Passover meal with his disciples:

       It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (portions from Jn. 13:1-15)

      As Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, John saw that as one demonstration of  Jesus ‘loving them to the end.’  Laying down our lives for a friend may be too great of an ideal for any of us to do, but washing his feet is certainly achievable. If we continue to wash his feet, and do so long enough, we might someday love him enough to lay down our lives.  For now, we need not to worry about whether we could match Jesus. We just need to focus on serving others. If the quality of an ideology prevents us from moving forward, we may perhaps have misunderstood its purpose.

      On the Chinese-speaking side, the Blessing Group ministry provides a framework that requires team members to commit to one another - contributing their time, gifts and efforts for the common goal of making and training disciples. This tight team spirit serves as the platform on which we explore and practice ways to support one another, and may, in some way, inspire us love one another as Jesus exemplified.

      信仰生活裡的理想和現實,常是個苦惱的問題。有理想是好的;它給你動力、目標和指標。但要達到它,卻又十分遙遠。就以「彼此相愛」爲例。它的理想是耶穌所給的命令:

      我賜給你們一條新命令,乃是叫你們彼此相愛;我怎樣愛你們,你們也要怎樣相愛。(約翰福音 13:34)

      耶穌是怎樣愛我們的?

      人為朋友捨命,人的愛心沒有比這個大的。(約翰福音 15:13)

      將以上兩節經文放在一起,你就有一個高不可攀,遠不可及的理想。誰能爲朋友捨命,像主耶穌一樣?

      其實耶穌是爲我們設了一個目標。這個目標爲我們定了「方向」。我們可能一生都沒能力,也沒機會做到為朋友捨命。不過,我們是朝這個目標進發,直到見主面的日子。約翰爲我們記載那最後晚餐的情景……

      約翰福音 13:1-15

      1逾越節以前,耶穌……既然愛世間屬自己的人,就愛他們到底。……4就離席站起來……5隨後把水倒在盆裡,就洗門徒的腳,……14我是你們的主,你們的夫子,尚且洗你們的腳,你們也當彼此洗腳。15我給你們作了榜樣,叫你們照著我向你們所做的去做。

      在約翰眼中,耶穌當晚所做的,是「愛門徒到底」的表現。而他所用的途徑是給門徒洗腳。為朋友捨命,我未必辦不到;但給他洗腳,準能做得到。倘若我天天都以這樣的心態服侍我的弟兄,或許有一天,我會願意為他捨命也說不定。不過目前,我們不必想那麼多,就專心彼此服侍就行了。如果一個理想反而使我們卻步,那麼我們就誤解了理想的真正意義。

      幸福小組的架構,就是要求一隊人在傳福音、培育門徒的事上緊密合作。在互相合作的大前提下,大家拿出自己的恩賜所長彼此配搭。這樣的環境,正是個培養彼此相愛的好平臺;而且在不久的將來,能看見一些實際果效。