Twenty years ago as I preached on a Sunday evening, I began a journey of biblical discovery that would profoundly impact my relationships with other believers.
I came to Christ at the age of fifteen and I was deeply influenced by church folks. It puzzled me that the Bible had very specific directives regarding our behavior towards each other as members of the “body of Christ.” The way I read the Bible, everything was done within community and because of community.
The Gospels were written to the Church (the community of God’s people), the Epistles were written to the Church. And both were written to provide instruction of how to do things together. No solos, no rugged individualism – together.
As a new believer, I was shocked when I discovered that church folks struggled to act out these Biblical behaviors.
First of all, one weekly morning together is not nearly enough time for believers to work out these behaviors – even with the second hour of Sunday School.
Second, I do not ever remember being taught how to treat each other. I thought we were just supposed to love and try not to gossip. Most of the teaching I heard was geared toward personal growth, holiness and finding your place to serve.
However, if the Biblical instructions were given in community and expected to be practiced in community then why weren’t we seeing more evidence or hearing more stories of these behaviors being successful in community?
So that Sunday night, twenty years ago, I spoke on the New Testament “One Another’s.” Originally I found twenty-one of them, but since then I found a couple more. My opening line that night was, “Tonight my message only has twenty-one points!” Though we flew through each point, I never forgot the impact of those words.
The apostle John mentions LOVE ONE ANOTHER more than any other author. Three times in two verses in the book of John and six times in six verses in his epistles.
Eight times he says “LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” You would think that John was trying to get a message across. Jesus said in John 13:35, people will be able to tell you are His disciples just because of your love for each another.
Of course, people never watch how you act. You live in a totally isolated world where no own notices you.
For sure they don’t watch how you treat your kids, your wife, your husband, your friends, your boss.
And people NEVER notice how you speak of other Christians.
I believe we all know better than that.
So, I have brought the “one another’s” back and written a little thought and a prayer with each one.
Now it’s a twenty-three week devotional. I would have made it twenty-three days, but a day is just not long enough to grasp the depth of each word and apply it in our lives.
So for the next twenty-three weeks, be open to hearing what God’s word has for you and for others around you! Even if the word of the week seems difficult, I encourage you to try it. God will give opportunities to practice. All you have to do is act on the opportunity and watch what happens.