Spiritual Growth Series: “One Another”: How to Nurture Biblical Love in Body Life

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Editors Note: This is a new series on spiritual growth designed to help our readers understand how to grow in Christ.

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How do you define church? What does being a member of the church mean to you? “Attending meetings; giving my offerings; casting my vote,” might be a typical answer. But actually, church membership embodies so much more than that.

Church is about relationships. How we relate to God (worship); how we relate to His Word (discipleship); how we relate to the needy (ministry); how we relate to the world (evangelism); and how we relate to one another (fellowship). Let’s focus on fellowship. The Scriptures are full of directives on how we are to relate to one another.

Paul teaches us that we are members of one another (Rom. 12:5Eph. 4:25). This means that there is an organic unity of all believers in Christ. We are members of Him, members of His body, and thus members of one another. Understanding this is crucial to all of our relationships. It means that however we treat a member of the Body is actually how we treat Christ Himself.

The commands regarding “Body Life” are very specific. There are both positive and negative commands. We are told both what to do and what not to do. Positively we are commanded to: comfort one another (I Thess. 4:18), edify one another (I Thess. 5:11), forbear one another (Eph. 4:2), forgive one another (Col. 3:13), edify one another (Rom. 14:19), admonish one another (Rom. 15:14), admonish through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16), exhort one another (Heb. 3:13), serve one another (Gal. 5:13), bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), consider and provoke one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24), greet one another (Rom 16:16I Cor. 16:20II Cor. 13:12I Pet. 5:14), assemble together to exhort one another (Heb. 10:25), be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving towards one another (Eph. 4:32Rom. 12:10), submit to one another (Eph. 5:21I Pet. 5:5), receive one another as Christ received us (Rom. 15:7), care for one another (I Cor. 12:25), prefer one another (Rom. 12:10), be like-minded with one another (Rom. 12:1615:5), minister one to another (I Pet. 4:10), show hospitality to one another (I Pet. 4:9), confess faults one to another (Jas. 5:16), and pray for one another (Jas. 5:16).

The most often repeated command respecting Christian relationships is simply, “love one another” (Jn. 13:34-3515:1217I Thess. 4:9I Jn. 3:1116234:711-12II Jn. 1:5). “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34, ESV). Paul teaches that we fulfill the law through loving one another (Rom. 13:8). And Peter says that we are to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).

There are also many negative commands in Scripture which teach us how not to treat one another. We are specifically forbidden to lie to another (Col. 3:9), bite, devour, and consume one another (Gal. 5:15), provoke one another (Gal. 5:26), envy one another (Gal. 5:26), take one another to court (I Cor. 6:7), be “puffed up in favor of one against another” (I Cor. 4:6), or judge one another (Rom. 14:13). Of course, every sin forbidden in Scripture applies to our relationships with one another.

Now, the question I want to ask is this: how can we nurture this kind of biblical love towards one another in practical ways? It’s one thing to see these commands on paper. It’s another thing to live them out. We need help. What can we do to help?

1. Saturate yourself in Scripture.

Paul commands: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16, ESV). Do you see the connection? As the word of Christ takes residence in your life, you will be equipped to teach and admonish others. How can you obey what you don’t remember? And how can you remember what is not etched in your mind? Familiarity with the Word is essential to Biblical relationships. Perhaps the main reason why people have difficulty getting along with others (whether in their families or in their churches) is because they do not know and obey Scripture. Why not start familiarizing your self with Scripture by looking up and studying these “one another” passages?

2. Live in covenant with your church.

Many churches today don’t have “church covenants.” Ours does. And the most God-centered churches that I know of do. What is a church covenant? It is simply a document that summarizes our Biblical responsibilities towards one another and declares our commitment to fulfill those responsibilities.

Here is the church covenant of our church (Fulkerson Park in Niles, Michigan):

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and members of His body, we consider it our joy to live in covenant with one another. We promise to treasure the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ through passionately worshiping God, faithfully learning and living the Scriptures, regularly celebrating the Lord’s Supper, willingly participating in fellowship, joyfully submitting to our leaders, and cheerfully sharing our gifts, time, energy, and financial resources for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ in the world.

We promise to cultivate the spiritual formation of ourselves and our families through worship, meditation and prayer, to share the gospel with our fellow-man, to live like Jesus in the world, to be honest and just in our engagement with others, to avoid attitudes and actions which are destructive to the unity of the body, and to respect the Christian liberty of others, while also abstaining from practices which bring unwarranted harm to the body or jeopardize our own or another’s faith.

We promise to pursue the spiritual health and growth of this community by loving and serving one another, remembering one another in prayer, giving to one another in times of need, exhorting one another to continue in the faith, and forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven us. And we promise that if we should ever leave this local body, we will unite ourselves with another church of similar faith and practice.

 

Read the rest at: http://servantsofgrace.org/spiritual-growth-series-one-another-how-to-nurture-biblical-love-in-body-life/#sthash.QA6WUKTy.dpuf

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