Read 2 Corinthians 2:3-4
3 That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful. 4 I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you. (NLT)
Deep down we perhaps long for a perfect church, a perfect friendship, a perfect marriage complete with perfect children. Deep down we realise we are never going to have these things. Our own imperfect egos seek out those who will serve our interests. And so our relationships are marked by self-interest.
But this is not the whole story. Those who follow Jesus have at least an inkling of the desire and need to love others. Others do not exist to merely orbit around us and make our life better. Others have their own interests, their own imperfect egos. Which is why the old marriage vows speak of it being ‘for better or for worse’.
It has been said that any relationship worth having consists of wounds and blessings. If we want to be blessed in a relationship we must be prepared to be wounded. The ones who bless us the most may wound us the most.
This is what Paul experienced repeatedly in his relationship with his churches. He had great love for those who caused him great anguish. It is love that gives substance to the anguish. A hateful heart can simply dismiss those who wound us.
A loving heart seeks to hold on to those who wound us, seeking to both give and receive a blessing. Such is the shape of love in our out-of-shape world.