2007-09-16_One Anothers Part 2
God Plus Something Else
By Shaun LePage, September 26, 2007.
Some of the huge redwood trees in California are over 300 feet high. Compare that to the KU tower (Memorial Carillon and Campanile) which stands only 120 feet high. Such monsters must have tremendous root systems that reach hundreds of feet down into the earth—right? Wrong. The redwoods actually have very shallow root systems. The redwoods grow strong and tall because their root systems intertwine. They lock into each other. If a redwood stood out in a field alone, it wouldn’t take a very strong storm to knock it down. The key word is “alone”. The strength of a redwood is found in its dependence upon the other trees which stand beside it.
What a great picture. The strength of a Christian is very similar. The strength of a Christian is found in his dependence upon the other Christians which stand beside him. Yes, yes, I know—the Lord is our strength and He is all we need. But that’s not the whole picture. God Himself gave us the New Testament. God Himself gave us well over 50 “one-another” commands! He is all we need for salvation. For life. But He has made it clear that for spiritual growth—we need God plus something else: our brothers and sisters in Christ. The church.
For several months last year—as most of you will remember—we studied the One-Another’s together in our Community Groups. This is such an important piece of the puzzle of Christianity that I’m going to ask you to take a refresher course. I’m including a list here of every one of these commands I could find. Would you take a minute and read this list? Yes, it’s long, but I believe there is great value in re-reading it.
Mark 9:50—be at peace with one another
John 13:14—wash one another’s feet
John 13:34—love one another
John 13:35—love one another
John 15:12—love one another
John 15:17—love one another
Romans 12:5—you are members of one another
Romans 12:10—be devoted to one another in brotherly love
Romans 12:16—be of the same mind toward one another
Romans 13:8—love one another
Romans 14:13—let us not judge one another
Romans 14:19—build up one another
Romans 15:5—be of the same mind with one another
Romans 15:7—accept one another
Romans 15:14—admonish one another
Romans 16:16—greet one another with a holy kiss
1 Corinthians 11:33—wait for one another (fellowship meals)
1 Corinthians 12:25—care for one another
1 Corinthians 16:20—greet one another with a holy kiss
2 Corinthians 13:12—greet one another with a holy kiss
Galatians 5:13—through love serve one another
Galatians 5:15—if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another
Galatians 5:26—Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Galatians 6:2—bear one another’s burdens
Ephesians 4:2—show tolerance for one another
Ephesians 4:25—Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Ephesians 4:32—Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ephesians 5:19—speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
Ephesians 5:21—be subject to one another
Philippians 2:3—regard one another as more important than yourselves
Colossians 3:9—do not lie to one another
Colossians 3:13—bear with one another and forgive one another
Colossians 3:16—teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
1 Thessalonians 5:11—encourage one another and build up one another
1 Thessalonians 5:13—live in peace with one another
1 Thessalonians 5:15—seek after that which is good for one another
Hebrews 3:3—encourage one another
Hebrews 10:24—stimulate one another to love and good deeds
Hebrews 10:25—(not forsaking assembling) encouraging one another
James 4:11—do not speak against one another
James 5:9—do not complain against one another
James 5:16—confess your sins to one another and pray for one another
1 Peter 1:22—love one another
1 Peter 4:8—love one another
1 Peter 4:9—be hospitable to one another
1 Peter 4:10—serve one another
1 Peter 5:5—clothe yourselves with humility toward one another
1 Peter 5:14—greet one another with a holy kiss
1 John 3:11—love one another
1 John 3:23—love one another
1 John 4:7—love one another
1 John 4:11—love one another
1 John 4:12—love one another
2 John 5—love one another
What did you think? What went through your mind as you read this list again? Let me share some of my thoughts:
§ Some of the “one-anothers” are repeated or very similar. Various teachers have condensed them down to around a dozen categories. But repetition in the Bible is always important. It’s saying, “Don’t miss this—it’s important!”
§ Most of the “one-anothers” are commands. They give us some things—lots of things—to do. “Love, serve, encourage, speak, pray for…” These commands require our time and personal commitment to our church body.
§ One of the “one-anothers” is a statement. “We are members of one another.” That’s not a command to do anything. It simply tells us a fact. But listen to it in context—Romans 12:3-5: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Did you catch that metaphor? “…We, who are many, are one body in Christ…” Paul used that metaphor repeatedly to describe the church. The point here is that we should not think of ourselves as individuals, but as parts of the whole. We are individuals, of course, but as Christians in the body of Christ, we cannot be individualistic. We must see ourselves as having a part to play and if we don’t do our part the body will be lame in some way. This should keep the big shots from getting too proud. The little shots from feeling like nobodies. We need each other. Just like a body needs all its parts to function correctly, the church needs all its parts to do their parts. Why? Because we are “members of one another.”
§ Some of the “one anothers” are negative—they tell us what not to do or to stop doing some things to “one another.” It would be foolish for us to pretend none of us has any problems—that Community Bible Church has no problems. Or that we won’t have any problems in the future. Every Christian and every church has problems—things we need to work on and stop doing. The worst thing we can do is stick our heads in the sand and pretend these problems don’t exist. Instead—if we’re going to be a healthy, New Testament church—we’re going to have to “…not judge, not bite and devour, not consume one another, not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another …” and on and on. Being a member of a church, having fellowship with other believers, requires us to work hard at putting off our old, sinful habits. It requires us to love people that are hard to love sometimes. It requires us to speak the truth in love at the risk of being misunderstood or losing a relationship. Truly, Christian love is tough love. To ignore our problems is to stunt each other’s growth. That’s not love—that’s selfishness.
§ Most of the “one anothers” are positive. Even though we’ll have to deal with problems sometimes, we don’t want to be overly critical and jump on each other for every mistake or flaw. We deal with the problems with an attitude of humility and only in love. If we enjoy confrontation. If we enjoy admonishing someone—our motivation is wrong. Most of what we’re called to do here is positive—doing the right things. Moving toward maturity together. Putting on right and good and healthy habits. This is the pattern of maturity described for us in the New Testament (read Ephesians 4:20-28).
God’s Word requires us to be intertwined. Interconnected. Depending on one another. You’ll never see a strong redwood tree standing out in a field all by itself. Nor will you see a strong Christian who is a loner. Keeping his brothers and sisters in Christ at arm’s length. Do a little self-evaluation. Is that you? Are you keeping your distance? Are you standing in a field by yourself?