One Another

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Be Devoted to One Another

Posted by on 12 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: One Another

I suppose I don’t have to make a very strong argument to convince anyone that we live in a selfish culture. Whether you’ve lost your job or home or whether you have recently tried to fill your car’s gas tank, you have felt the bite of our greedy, selfish culture.

Unfortunately, the church doesn’t seem to be immune. I remember a story from my Bible college days about a church that split over what kind of donuts they served each Sunday morning, powdered sugar versus glazed. While that sounds like an urban legend–and I hope that it is–I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that it is true. People in churches argue about some pretty inconsequential things, like paint colors, coffee, carpeting. We argue about things that are, perhaps, more important, like Bible school curriculum and styles of music.

It’s nothing new. The early church had arguments about feeding widows, dietary laws, and circumcision. Even our brotherhood of churches–which was formed to restore the unity and example of the New Testament church–split over music, how to support missionaries, and even the deity of Christ and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Obviously, there are some things that are worthy of discussion and perhaps even arguments, but clearly there are things about which we should not argue.

Personal preferences must be put aside, period. Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” The next verse gives us our top priority: serving the Lord. So everything else is secondary. To be honest, there is just too much work to be done in the Kingdom to worry about our own personal preferences. Is it OK to have preferences? Sure, but those preferences should never take precedence over actual worship, evangelism, prayer, discipleship, etc. Those preferences should never be the deciding factor when it comes to whether you will serve or participate in any given ministry opportunity of the church.

The life and activity of the church should reflect the one who sacrificed everything for us selfish people. When it comes to serving God, we must devote ourselves not to ourselves but to each other so that others might benefit from our sacrifices and ultimately Jesus’ sacrifice.

Meet with One Another

Posted by on 27 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: One Another

The core of any church’s ministry is relationships. Our vision is to be a family of disciples of Jesus who make more disciples, and our strategy for doing that is to connect people to God and other people, to grow in our faith and knowledge of Jesus, and to serve like Jesus. All of that depends upon our abilities to form and nurture relationships, and that means we must meet together.

Hebrews 10:25 encourages us in this saying, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This is the verse that we like to use to convince people that they to be in church on Sunday mornings (and yes, you really ought to be here), but the verse should convince us that our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ is of eternal importance.

Initially, the writer of Hebrews points out that meeting together is a matter of encouraging one another. Then he amplifies this by referring to “the Day,” when Jesus will return; in other words, as Jesus’ return gets closer, we should encourage each other even more. And to do that, he says, we must meet together.

Do you need more encouragement these days? Who doesn’t? God knows that we need encouragement in our faith and in our daily lives; he knows it because he made us for relationships. Acts 2:46 tells us that the early church met together daily, both in the temple courts and in their homes. They ate together, and they praised together. Verses 44, 45 say that they even shared everything they owned in common and that gave to anyone who had needs. That’s encouragement.

Since we know that we need encouragement and since we know that every moment Jesus’ return is closer, shouldn’t we work on meeting together more? If we look at the attendance figures, we can see that are starting to form bad habits of not meeting together. Let’s reverse the trend and meet together to encourage each other. By all means, make it a habit to worship together on Sunday morning, but also try to meet with smaller groups, both in the church in study groups and outside the church in home-based groups. The Day is coming; let’s be ready!

Encourage One Another!

Posted by on 13 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: One Another

Depending upon your resources, common wisdom says that it takes between six and ten weeks to form a habit. For those whose New Year’s resolutions have led them to try to form some better habits, you’re hitting that “sweet spot,” which means your efforts are probably swinging wildly between success and failure. Those who are trying to get more exercise are finding it easier to get outside these days, but that’s unusual for this time of year; normally we’re starting to feel that edginess that comes with mid-winter “cabin fever.” This reminds me of a quote from that famous writer, Author Unknown: “The only exercise some people get is jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, side-stepping responsibility, and pushing their luck!”

It’s not just the winter blahs that make us a little cranky; sometimes we just get on each other’s nerves. It’s understandable; you know what people are like, right? It’s especially true about families, even church families. Unfortunately, what could be simple human nature all too easily becomes a bad habit of complaining about others. James 5:9 says: “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” There are many ways that we interact with each other that might cause our personalities, our backgrounds, or our skills and knowledge to come in conflict with each other, but God’s Word tells us that we must not let those disagreements turn into grumbling or complaining about each other.

Rather, we should take Paul’s advice from 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” What I like most about this statement is that Paul is encouraging his readers to be encouraging. In addition to that, he points out that his readers already have a habit of encouraging and building each other up. That’s what the church should be like, brothers and sisters encouraging each other as God continues to transform us and as we work together to share the Good News of salvation and transformation through Jesus. Keep up the good work; keep building those good habits; and keep on encouraging each other as we all continue to grow in our faith and knowledge of Jesus.

Be Accountable to One Another

Posted by on 30 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: One Another

Did you make any resolutions for the new year? About this time, many people who have made New Year’s resolutions are finding it very difficult to keep their resolutions. We’re a few weeks into the new year, and the changes we made on January 1 are starting to wear thin. Perhaps you’re not sticking to the new diet or the new exercise regimen. Perhaps your new budget is slipping. Perhaps you have already gotten behind on your plan to read the Bible in a year. Whatever your goals might be, the first two months are often the most difficult because you’re trying to develop new habits.

Life change is difficult, especially when you’re trying to make changes on your own. I’m sure most of us understand that we need to trust God when it comes to making changes in our lives, but it seems that many of us don’t understand that we really need to get other people involved in our lives to help us make changes.

James 5:16 tells us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Sure, James mentions confessing sins to each other so we can pray for each other, but really, who among us is willing to share our sins when we hesitate to share the rest of our lives with others?

While only God can truly affect change in our lives, it’s pretty clear that we are responsible to help each other through those changes. Even when God makes changes in our lives, we need not only to confess our sins to each other but to encourage each other when we have triumphed over our struggles, when we have resisted temptation.

While we head into the last few weeks of developing habits to change the way we live–to God’s glory, right?–let us help each other by holding each other accountable. Let’s get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ in such a way that we can work through the struggles of a new diet, so that we can become more regular in our exercise routines, so that we can become more faithful in our Bible study habits.

Love One Another

Posted by on 16 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: One Another

The first church was an “unusual” group of people. Acts 2:44-47 says that “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

They were unusual, at least in my mind, because they had a sense of community that is uncommon today. Christians are known widely for their generosity and love, but this kind of community is rare, even among Christians. For the most part, we do not meet together daily, sharing meals regularly, sharing our possessions as if they were not our own. Our culture would find this strange behavior, and we are likely to agree. As much as we might love our brothers and sisters in Christ, most of us like to protect “our space.”

Perhaps it’s our understanding of what it means to love one another, as Jesus commanded in John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This has to be important to Jesus; he repeats the command in John 15:12, 17. How did Jesus love us? Sacrificially. He loved us to the point of dying for us.

While I’m not expecting any of us to encounter circumstances where we might have the choice of dying for our brothers and sisters in Christ, I know that there are other circumstances in life when we might have the opportunity to love sacrificially. Paul explains it like this in Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Generosity is often an expression of our love out of the excess of what we have; sacrificial love gives regardless of what we have, as if to our own family, as if the other person is more important than ourselves.

In this new year, let us work on loving each other in this way. Let us make Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 our prayer for the year: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

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