Living & Growing: The “one another” clause

  • Sunday, January 17, 2016 1:00am
  • Neighbors

I hear of a lot of Christians who have given up on church. Reasons such as too many hypocrites, too much drama, too much of this or too little of that. And I would admit, the church is not perfect. And there are a lot of shortcomings to “organized religion” in our culture.

But, with all the downsides and imperfections, there are a lot more upsides to fellowshipping with other people seeking God. I like to think of the church on earth as a training camp for eternity in heaven. In this training camp, we learn, through the circumstances of life, to love one another and even love our enemies. I learn patience and understanding. I learn not to judge others, but rather to pray for and encourage others facing struggles in their life. I am constantly challenged to do that as I have attended church all my life, alongside people who are at different places in their spiritual journey. I have learned to appreciate where God has brought them and I seek to encourage them in the direction God is leading them, helping them a little further along in their journey. I don’t think I would be where I am today caring for others, having opportunities to show compassion, or to help others along their spiritual journey living for God if not for the church. I have grown stronger because of my interaction with others.

I once heard an illustration about a man who decided to stop going to church and a friend went to visit him at home. They sat and visited in his living room in front of the fireplace, and the man stated he could just as easily get along by himself as with all those other “imperfect Christians and organized religion-types.” His friend got up and took the tongs from the fireplace and reached in and pulled a red hot coal from the fire and laid it aside.

His friend simply said, “Watch.” As they watched, the main fire continued to burn hot, but the coal by itself soon darkened, diminished of fire and heat until soon it went cold. He said to his friend, “Whether you realize it or not, that is you.”

Just like the coal was meant to remain in the fire to keep burning hot, so Christians were meant to remain in and among the fellowship of believers so as to remain spiritually on fire for God. And he in turn spreads his fire to benefit others. That’s why the writer of Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

God’s people were meant to be together in fellowship. For it is within that context we learn to love one another, forgive one another, be patient with one another and the hundred other “one another” commands from Jesus for His followers. If we never fellowship with other believers, how can we learn to get along with each other? Our hope of heaven, as Christians, is to someday be together with Christ. I believe God’s design for eternity in heaven is fellowshipping with God and with one another. Jesus summed it up saying, Love God and love your neighbor; one another. This earth is like “training camp” where we can learn how to bear with one another, forgive one another, humble ourselves before one another. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” How can iron sharpen iron if our iron is the only iron in the shop?

It is hard to fulfill the intentions of Jesus and His whole purpose for His Church without each other. We need one another. We are to love one another as part of God’s highest command. Fellowshipping with other like-minded seekers of God is a good place to grow and stay “on fire” for God.

• Daniel Wiese is the pastor of the Juneau Church of the Nazarene.

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