One evening I was invited to a communion service with a small group of about twenty men and women. I had not known these people for very long, and I felt a little out of place. It was a very informal and relaxed gathering. We sat around a large table, lit only by candles. No one had been designated as a leader, so we all took turns sharing anything that was on our hearts. At first I was very reluctant to participate because it was so unstructured which made me feel uncomfortable.

We sang some familiar hymns and praise choruses, followed by a time of silent prayer. A few minutes later someone read from the Scriptures, and then began to teach a little on the meaning of the passage. After she finished teaching, people began to share some of their own hurts and needs, and each person was received with warmth and encouragement. Then we took part in what was one of the most beautiful communion services I had ever experienced.

As the bread came into my hands, I actually felt the presence of Christ. I looked around the room and saw that everyone was holding a piece of bread from the same loaf, that each of us was holding the body of Christ. A woman began to pray, Brothers and sisters … ” I didn’t hear the rest of her prayer. I looked around at all of the bowed heads and it struck me, These people are my family. That woman is my sister, that man is my brother.”

For the rest of the evening I felt a kinship with every person in the room. It was like the meal shared by the two people on the road to Emmaus: in the breaking of the bread I saw the presence of Christ in our midst. We were held together by the love God had shown each of us; that was our common bond.

Interdependent and Incomplete. God has made us interdependent. From the moment of our creation God felt that it was important for us to live in community. He looked at Adam and said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (Gen. 2:18). At the core of our being is a need to love and be loved by others.

The great wonder of our existence is the fact that God has made us incomplete. He could have dispensed all of our necessities directly to us so that we would have had no need for each other. Instead, he gives us all of the resources we need to care for one another and encourages us to share those resources.

We live in a vast network of care in which each of us has been given precious offerings from God and is called to pass on these gifts to those who need them. To put it another way, God cares for us through one another.

God’s Care. The motive to care for one another comes from the care God has shown us. The apostle John wrote, Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:11, 13). God’s love for us becomes the source of our desire to love one another.

How does God care for us? God cares for our spiritual life, God cares for the health of our soul, and God provides for our physical needs. God is available, God listens, and God never abandons us. This is how we are to care for one another.

God also provides the actual care we give to one another — one another’s physical needs, one another’s souls, and one another’s spirits. We are not really caring for one another, but rather, it is God who cares through us. We are merely vessels that carry a great treasure; there is no power within us.

Life Is Too Short. The following Life is too short …” list suggests ways to show we care for one another.

Life is too short to refuse to offer a kind word to someone who needs it, too short to turn a deaf ear to someone who is hurting, and too short to pass by someone who needs a hand. Life is too short to withhold a word of life, too short not to pray for someone we know is in trouble, and too short to neglect that note of encouragement we were meaning to send. Life is too short to let a week pass without hearing someone say, Thank you. You really didn’t have to … ”

Excerpted from Chapter 9 of Embracing the Love of God by James Bryan Smith (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995).

· Last Featured on May 2022