Growing up with 8 younger siblings I'm used to living with large groups of people. Some people have trouble loving their siblings, I cannot remember ever having real trouble loving them. This doesn't mean I always have, but I've never felt a constant, consistent bitterness towards them. My lack of love came more from failing to be self-aware and intentional in my love towards them.
In Wildwood I'm living in a house with the Boardwalk Chapel staff. Most of us don't (or rather didn't) know each other. I'm used to living with lots of people, but I get the chance to really see if my family was just very forgiving of my offenses constantly committed against them, or if I really have learned to love others.
Love is intentional. Love is never the chill out default mode. Regardless of how much of an easygoing personality you might have (which I think I do) making others feel loved is never the relaxed mode. Humor is a huge part of how we can cut open our brothers and sisters by pointing out a fault (in a joking manner) all for the sake of a laugh. Insults can be funny every once in a while, but a constant barrage or mis-timed insults can destroy good relationships. Our own habits and preferences are an opportunity to wear down others to the point of bitterness or exasperation.
Love does not have to be hard, but it is intentional. Paying someone a compliment can easily lose it's difficulty, but it requires intentionality to say something, rather than not. To say thank you can almost become a good habit, but it's never easier than saying nothing.
It takes intentionality to pay attention to whether our use of humor is for the building up of ourselves or others. The easy way is to just make the joke, instead of asking ourselves how it might affect others.
The beauty of being placed in a new family here is that I get to learn intentional love all over again. Jesus says that the world will know we are his by our love for one another. This is, in fact, our most important mission here, to show love to our family in Christ.
Paul tells us to outdo one another in showing honor to each other. This doesn't mean that we're always looking for ways to make us appear more godly and servant-like in the eyes of others to impress them. But it does mean we are intentional about going out of our way to please others, even if it might seem silly sometimes.
It is the little sacrifices which are done to serve others (not our own ego or reputation) which create a culture of intentional love.
Love is much more than a large act of sacrifice done rarely. Everyday love looks like refraining from a joke which would offend, offering to let another go in front of you, speaking a compliment even if you're afraid of it sounding cheesy, speaking up when conversations or actions deviate from love. Love looks like intentional actions.
Every situation we're placed in is a chance to learn how to love more deeply. What does love look like here? Is the where it requires patience? or kindness? or self-control? or not boasting?
May it be said of us on staff this year, "See how they love one another."
So that it will be obvious beyond all doubt who's family we're a part of; who's our Dad and who's our Brother.