Randall Gerard writes back...

Location: Out West

An old-fashioned guy grappling with new-fangled ways.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The 'one another' verses

Occasionally, I have nothing better to do then page idly through a really thick book. A concordance is just such a book, one that lists every word that occurs in the Holy Bible, and where it occurs, and how many times it is used, and what that word means in Hebrew or Greek. One day, I was looking at my concordance when my eye settled upon the word, ‘another’. This word, it turns out, is used a great deal in the Bible. There are a full 3 pages of references in very small print. I decided to focus on the New Testament and look some of them up. Here is what I found in summary form:

As christian believers, we are to be devoted to one another, prefer one another in love, contribute to the needs of one another, rejoice with one another, weep with one another, be of the same mind with one another, be at peace with one another. And that is just Romans 12. Would you like to hear the rest of the New Testament? Very well; I will try to avoid repetitive references to save time. We are to show forbearance to one another, speaking the truth to one another because we are members of one another. We are to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God has forgiven us in Christ. We are to teach and admonish one another, singing together with thankfulness in our hearts to God. We are to love each other and comfort one another with the words of scripture, encouraging one another and building each other up. We are to warn one another about the deceitfulness of sin, considering how we may stir one another up to love and good deeds, while not forsaking our own assembling together. Do not speak against one another or judge one another falsely. Do not complain against one another, but confess your sins one to another and pray for one another. Fervently love one another from the heart. That one is well worth repeating. Fervently love one another from the heart. Be hospitable, sympathetic, brotherly, and humble in spirit. Those who are young should be subject to the elders, but all of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

That’s a whole lot of ‘one another’ verses. One cannot read such a comprehensive list of duties without feeling inadequate. And yet, this is our calling toward our neighbor who also believes. I am speaking only to those who love the Lord Jesus now. You cannot even begin to practice these things if you stay home from church. If we are to ever love our neighbor as ourselves, we must reach beyond ourselves and embrace others. At the very least, we have to show up and make ourselves available. By all means, worship God in private too, just realize that you’re not an only child. You are not the only one Christ died for in this world, you have a family. You have many brothers and sisters. God intends to use all of us to help all of us grow up in the faith. We are as ‘living stones’ fitted and joined together into one temple, the Bible says.

Showing up at church, being involved in corporate worship, supporting the plans, programs and Pastor of your local body is just the beginning, however. We are hospitable outside the context of Sunday service. We rejoice or weep with one another as we journey through this life together. We contribute to the various needs of the saints every day, whenever those needs occur. The ‘one another’ verses of Scripture presuppose something very important. They presuppose that we, as the Body of Christ, are involved in each other’s daily lives. They presuppose that we like each other enough to work together, play together, and otherwise enjoy each other’s company during the week. Instead of being distant relatives who hardly speak and who seldom interact, we should be as friends who can’t wait to get together.

I mentioned above that the Church is described in the New Testament as the Body of Christ. A body has many parts that work together to form one complex organism. Do not dismember the Body of Christ by isolating yourself from it. We need you, and you need us. And this is God’s opinion, God’s grand idea, not mine.