The words “one another” have significant meaning for the New Testament church. For all those who have called upon the name of Jesus for salvation have been redeemed and adopted by God. And as children of God, we are now people who consider the well-being and spiritual health of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is so important for us to understand and embrace because the church is healthiest when we are “one another” kind of people.
Take for instance the words of Jesus in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” When Jesus commands his disciples to “love one another” it was for their own good and for the glory of God’s name. He called them to be his disciples and to make them a witness to his majesty and glory. The way in which they would testify to the world of the saving power of Jesus would be in how they loved one another. It was vital that the disciples embraced Christ’s command. And throughout history, the times in which the church of God has been most effective and most Christ-like has been when God’s people displayed true love for one another. In the way that Jesus loves us, we are to love one another. But how?
The New Testament writers had a unique understanding of the necessity for the children of God who profess faith in Christ to love one another. It would be the bond that would hold the church together for generations. In fact, the NT is filled with commands on how we are to love one another. Here are just a few references: Seek restoration, comfort and peace with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11); Use your freedom in Christ to serve one another (Galatians 5:13); Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of one another (Ephesians 4:32); Teach and admonish one another in God’s wisdom (Colossians 3:16); Encourage one another in God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 4:18 & 5:11); Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24); Confess to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16); Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9); Be humble toward one another (1 Peter 5:5); Love one another (1 John 4:7,11,12).
Notice how every command is given for the good of someone else. Restoration, encouragement, prayer, bearing burdens, and forgiveness are all ways in which we extend Christ-like love to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is necessary that we as a church family embrace these commands and seek to DO them in our daily lives. When the church expresses her love for Jesus by loving one another, there is no way for the watching world to deny the power of the gospel.
I’ve been thinking about our church family and how much we like to spend time together in fellowship (usually around a table with food). In fact, the cover of this month’s newsletter features the favorite of all “fellowship meals” in our beloved Louisiana: boiled crawfish. As I’ve considered how we as a church family can find ways to actively live out all of the ‘one another’ verses in scripture, I couldn’t help thinking about how our time together on April 13th around tables of hot, boiled crawfish is a perfect opportunity to comfort, forgive, teach, encourage, pray for, and love one another. I want to challenge the people of FBC Baton Rouge to take the words of scripture seriously and seek to DO what we are commanded to do (James 1:22). Make your conversations about the gospel; encourage one another to press on in faith; invite the lost to join us for crawfish and offer to pray for them; share your struggles with your brothers and sisters in Christ and ask for prayer; encourage each other to keep Christ at the center of their lives. Let us not waste these precious moments we have together as a church family to build up one another in the love and admonition of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After all, if it was not for Jesus, we would not all be together. Since we are together, let’s make it all about Jesus.