“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” Romans 12:10
“…Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
“Live in harmony with one another…” Romans 12:16
“Owe no man anything but to Love one another…” Romans 13:8
“…Stop passing judgment on one another.” Romans 14:13
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” Romans 15:17
“…Instruct one another.” Romans 16:7
“Greet one another with a holy kiss…” Romans 16:16
In just this brief sampling of New Testament Commands, drawn from the book of Romans, I want to show you the vision of Jesus for his body of believers. Since we are “members, one of another,” we must live a life of practicing the “one another’s” in the Church.
God has given us each other, and called us to assemble together, to get to know each other, and to learn to love one another, and go through life’s trials as brothers and sisters together.
There are 59 “One Another” commands in the New Testament. In an excellent Article called “4 Themes in the One Another Statements of the New Testament”, Robert Sang took those 59 statements (many of which are repetitious) and categorized them into four themes,
The” One Another”commands call us to Love one another, to remain in Unity, to Serve and Humble ourselves to each other, and finally to build up and edify ourselves among each other. All of these categories are simply the outworking of the first one, which is to Love one another.
Jesus Himself commanded us to “Love one another as I have loved you”, on the night that He was betrayed. What does it mean to Love one another? We are to seek the good for each other, and to put other’s above our selves. Thus the Christian life cannot truly be worked out without participation and immersion into the body of Christ.
A Church is a family and in the family relationships can be complicated and will need maintenance.We are bound together through the New Birth, and that has come by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is working in every true Church to bring about the Unity of the Faith. The largest category of “:One another”commands, involve the lengths we must go to maintain and preserve that Unity.
The basis of our Unity is that in Jesus we all want the same things: the Glory of God, the progress of the gospel, we want to see other’s saved, and for others to come into full maturity.I t is called “the Unity of the Faith”, ie we are united by belief in the Truth.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ( Ephesians 4:1-6)
In this we are commanded to resist the enemies of Christian Unity, such as heresy, strife, party Spirit, factions, and emulation.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” ( I Corinthians 1:10)
We take a meal together, regularly, The Lord’s Supper, in which we remember that we all stand on the level ground of the Cross, and we have all been justified by the Lord Jesus, and have been washed in His blood. It is a sin to take such a meal whilst nurturing any disunity.
Having group of a people to remain united in Spirit is a difficult task in this Age of Self Love. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can achieve it. Unity requires copious amounts of forgiveness, humility, forbearance, and Love for Jesus.
Peter told us to “Be servant in your love one for another, for Love covers a multitude of transgressions”,(I Peter 4:8). One translation has it, “Love one another deeply….”.
Do you serve one another? Seriously, in what way do you serve your brothers and sisters? This is the third category of “One Another’s”, and it is as serious a command of God as any. Jesus washed the disciples feet, partly as an example that we should follow. To do so involved humility, Love, and self renunciation.
There was a hymn sung in the worship of the early Church, that is recorded in Paul’s epistle to the Philipians, which underscores this point of the essential virtue of being a Servant to each other.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.( Philipians 2:5-11)
We reveal Jesus in the way we “serve one another” within the body of Christ. Everybody has a potential role to play in it, for there are both visible and hidden ways to serve. We can physically help each other, we can pray for each other and carry one another’s burdens, we can take the lowest seat and rejoice when a brother or sister is exalted.
The final category of the One another’s, is the exhortations to edify and build up the body of Christ. This can include teaching, instruction, admonishment, encouragement, giving , uplifting, and even “songs, Hymns and Spiritual Songs”.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.(Ephesians 5:18-21)
How can a Christian do any of these commandments of Jesus and His Apostles, when they do not have any commitment whatsoever to a Church? There is a bizarre idea that has become commonplace these days, that you can be ‘churchless’ and live the Christian life!
“I love Jesus but I despise the Church” is what I have heard from bitter and hurt people over the years. I know people who have been hurt in Churches, I have seen churches go bad, I have seen them become carnal circuses, I have heard of things happening to people in church which are unjust, unfair, unloving, and frankly ungodly. I get that. Churches are composed of people, and people can let others down, they can change and even defect.
But God chose the Church as the present vehicle of his program. I would say leave to rotten, defective and ungodly churches, but don’t give up on Church itself. Find a group of likeminded people you can practice love, commitment, and a servant lifestyle. Even if it is a little tiny group, and be the Church. Get it right. Practice the “One Anothers” and glorify Jesus.