As you read through the New Testament you’ll come across a certain phrase over and over again. The phrase is “one another” and it’s talking about how Christians are suppose to act toward one another.
These “one another’s” seem like basic human decency or relationships 101. Love one another…be kind to one another…serve one another…forgive one another…pray for one another…encourage one another. There’s over 50 of these “one another” passages and each one seems like you shouldn’t have to tell people to do those things. You would think it would come natural.
But one look at social media proves it doesn’t come naturally. Have you ever seen this meme on social media?
Life is too short to waste another minute on anyone or anything that doesn’t make you happy.
I’ve seen this shared so many times. It’s usually when someone is getting a divorce or breaking up or quitting something. I’m not talking about non-Christians posting this, I’m talking about Christians.
It sounds good on the surface, but aren’t you glad your momma didn’t live by that philosophy? She would have left you in your first year of life. I guarantee all of those 3am feedings didn’t make her happy. If that didn’t push her over the edge she would have left you when you were a teenager slamming the door and screaming, “I hate you! I hate my life! You’re the worst parent ever!”
Some of you need to stop right now and call your momma up today and apologize. You need to thank her for not giving up on you.
Parenting is tough work. There is no easy stage. When your kids are younger they demand all of your physical energy. When they get older they demand all of your emotional energy. God help you if you have kids in both categories!
Kids will test you. Last week my wife is at the bus stop waiting with some neighbors and one of the neighbors…mind you these are neighbors we’ve been inviting to church, sharing our faith with and loving on them…this neighbor says to my son, who is in first grade, “You look tired this morning.” My son responds, “Yeah, I’m tired because my mom and dad woke me up yelling at each other!” He flat out lied! Didn’t happen! My wife doesn’t say a word until she has had her coffee.
When I came home from the office that day my wife filled me in and I followed up with my son. “Buddy, we can’t lie.” “But, dad it was funny!” I assured him, it wasn’t funny at all.
Your kids will test you, but you keep on loving them. Sometimes it feels like it’s a one sided relationship. Dad I need $20 bucks to go out with my friends, Dad can I have the keys to the car. But when you ask for a little help around the house it’s, “You’re the worst parent on the planet!”
If it feels one sided…Why do you keep loving them? I mean they obviously aren’t making you happy? Why do you forgive them over and over again? Why do you show up when they don’t show up for you? Why do you keep serving them when they refuse to lift a finger to help?
Because you’re devoted to them.
Because that’s what family does.
Interestingly, that’s exactly how Paul says we as Christians are to act toward one another.
St. Paul is saying we are to love each other like a family. Unconditional. Loyal.
In the English language we only have one word for “love”. But in the ancient Greek, which is what the New Testament was originally written in, there are 4 words. Each word describes a different type of love. In this instance Paul combines two words for love…it’s the only time it’s done in all of the New Testament. Paul combines the feelings you have for a friend with the love you have for a brother. Paul is telling us that we are to be devoted in love to one another like you would to your family.
Family love for people who aren’t part of your biological family.
We are to love each other like a family loves each other. Like a parent who is always devoted to their child…no matter how embarrassing…no matter how many hurtful things they say. Every decision you make is based on love and their best interest.
Have you ever been in a situation where you knew the people sitting next to you at church were devoted to you? Maybe they sent you texts letting you know they were praying for you. Maybe they helped you move. Or watched a child for you. Or listened as you poured at your heart. They were there when your mom died. They gave you some money to help you through a rough patch.
That kind of devotion just does something to you and for you. It lifts your spirit, it gives you strength knowing you don’t have to face life alone. You have family that’s devoted to you.
Why do you think Paul has to tell us to be devoted to one other?
Because there are times you aren’t going to want to be devoted. I’m not talking about times you don’t feel like helping someone move. I mean times likes when you are on opposite sides of political issues and you let political issues become bigger than your love for each other. You’ll have a choice…be devoted to my party or be devoted to my family.
It’s easy to be devoted to people who think like me, talk like me, vote like me, and look like me but that’s not what God is asking you to do. He is asking you to be devoted to your brothers and sisters in Christ of all different races. Of all different stripes.
He tells us to be devoted because there will be times when people will hurt your feelings. Most of the time it will be unintentional and you’ll have a choice to get mad and walk away or to hang in there and work through it.
Maybe God wants to use you to help guide them toward a greater maturity but they are going to keep being immature because you walked away. You didn’t lean in to help them.
It’s easy to walk away from uncomfortable situations. It’s easy to quit, but the issue becomes once you start a pattern of quitting it’s hard to break it.
I’m going to ask you a tough questions. Get ready. I’m going to ask it because I think it’s a way for us to look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves about this issue of being devoted to one another. Ready?
How many churches have you been a part of where you live? If you keep jumping ship every 3-5 years you need to stop and do some soul searching. People who are constantly leaving churches and going to the next one are usually people who are running from something. Maybe it’s accountability. Maybe it’s commitment. Usually it’s some area where they need to grow and they just don’t want to. They are faced with an opportunity to grow but they bolt.
I think it takes 3-5 years for some deep issues to begin to surface in a community and when they do it will get uncomfortable. Some choose to move on instead of grow. They never learn what it means to be devoted to one another. To be loyal. To be committed…like you would to a family.
Since you didn’t stop reading…one more question…
What do you have to offer as proof that you are devoted to the people in your church?
Do you serve anywhere in the church? Because guess who you are serving? The very people you are suppose to be devoted to. You don’t want to be the teenager who is always taking but never pitching in.
What about your giving? God has blessed each one of us. Based on what you give verses what you make would the people sitting next to you feel you were devoted?
What about gossip? Do you call the person out who is gossiping because you are devoted to the person being talked about? Do you believe the best?
Maybe we could ask it this way…If people found out you were leaving your church would they be surprised? If they wouldn’t be surprised that’s a pretty good sign you need to work harder on being devoted to one another.
Imagine if the person next to you in church was as devoted to you as you are to your kids. Imagine if you were devoted to the person next to you and around you as you are to your family. What would that look like? What could we do for God’s kingdom?
Imagine if you weren’t in competition with the people in your church, but instead everyone in your church was devoted to seeing each other succeed. Your success is my success and my success is your success that we’re in this together.
Imagine if we could show a picture to the world of what it looks like to get along despite our differences. To show the world what real community and family looks like to so many who have never had a model of unconditional family love.
Jesus said this…
By the love you show for each other not by a cross or a tattoo or a fish on the back of your car, but by your love for one another will people know that you follow Jesus.
How can you love someone unless you are devoted to them?