I recently read a poignant quote from John Wesley which states, “There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian.” As believers, God has created us for fellowship not only with Him through Jesus His Son, but also with each other as a church family. There should be no such thing as a “lone-ranger” Christian who lives in isolation from other believers and who believes that he or she can grow and thrive without connection to a community of faith.
In light of what Christ has done on the cross in forgiving our sins and rising again for our justification, the Bible commands us to practice the gospel “one-anothers”. What exactly are these “one anothers”? Sprinkled throughout the New Testament, we find these commands that we are to continually practice in an ongoing fashion as we relate to one another as believers.
The apostle John writes this in 1 John 4:10-11: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” This is the foundation for how we treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of the Father’s great love for us in the cross of Christ, we have been empowered by His grace to love one another. What type of love is this? It is a self-giving, self-denying, self-sacrificing love that seeks the greater good of others.
In addition, Paul commands us in Romans 15:7 with these words, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” We are called to welcome or accept or draw one another into fellowship for the glory of God which in actuality models the way Christ has welcomed us. Jesus did not wait for us to get our acts together before He decided to save us, but went to the cross and died for rebels who transgressed against His law time and time again. In the same way, we must be willing to accept each other and extend grace.
Furthermore, we are commanded to bear the burdens of one another. In Galatians 6:2 Paul writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This requires investment, energy and time as we support one another with life’s burdens. I am convinced that there are three ruthless enemies facing us as believers in our 21st century culture. These are selfishness, busyness, and complacency. We are very self-centered and want everything to revolve around us and our lives are so busy and complicated that we don’t make time for other people. Many are also just content and complacent in their loneliness that they do not want to take the risks involved in reaching out to others.
Paul also commands us in Ephesians 4:32 with this difficult saying: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” God totally forgave all of our sins when Christ died that cruel death on the cross. In the same manner, we are commanded to forgive one another. I often hear Christians say that they don’t feel called to forgive another person. It doesn’t matter what one “feels” because God has given us His authoritative command. We are to forgive one another and this will be excruciatingly painful at times, but we have no choice in the matter.
In addition, the write of Hebrews urges us to encourage one another on a daily basis. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” This word “exhort” means to come along side a person by getting down deep in the trenches of their life.
Finally, James commands us to pray for one another. He writes this in James 5:16: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
As we practice this gospel “one anothers” the Holy Spirit will begin to cultivate healthy relationships in families, churches, and friendships. When we love one another, and accept one another, and bear the burdens of one another, and forgive one another, and encourage one another, and pray for one another, the gospel of Christ is lived out in our lives in brilliant color. We treat each other the way that Christ treats us and His power transforms our lives for His glory.
I encourage you by God’s grace and through His Spirit, to practice these gospel “one anothers” and see how He brings health and vitality to your relationships. I also encourage you to get connected to a Bible believing local church where you can actively practice these “one another’s” through mutual fellowship.