Spiritual growth doesn’t happen on its own. I don’t grow on my own, I grow with people. I need people – in fellowship with other believers. I need others, others need me. That’s the conviction – the conviction that spiritual growth is a community thing and not a personal thing. A relationship with Jesus means a relationship with his body, which means community.
Like arranged marriage, we have arranged family. At your second birth, at your rebirth, at your being-born again, when you’re born into the family of God, as you put your faith into the Lord Jesus -- you find yourself having a blood relationship with people, having a name that you share with others, having a character that you share with others and having a family business that you share with others. And that is what God is all about.
In the beginning, arranged marriage can feel weird. There can be awkwardness, there could be that season when you don’t know whether to trust or not to trust. It’s weird because you’re adjusting, bringing in your own culture, you’re figuring out that culture. But the decision to submit, the decision to cooperate, is based on a covenant rather than a convenience. It’s based on a fact rather than a feeling and that again is arranged family. It is adoption, it is owning, it is adjusting. It is overcoming embarrassment to who are the others in my family. You do that as you grow up in a family.
So, you align your beliefs, you align your community values etc. But relationships take time. You’ve got to give the time, invest the time, spend the time to build. Without that investment of time we cannot expect the benefits of a church family. You might say, “My church is not helpful, they’re not available, they don’t understand, they judge me – they look at me like this, they look at me like that – they’re never available, they don’t know what I’m going through.” Yes, well they don’t. You did not invest in the relationships; they are not going to give you the benefits. The benefits come with the investment. “I feel so lonely.” Yes. You did not invest in relationships, now bear the brunt of it. “Nobody understands me.” Yes. You did not invest in understanding anybody else, bear the brunt of it. Benefits come with the investment of time. Relationships require the currency of time. We got to put it into actions.
When I’m in ministry, I’m not alone – you are with me. When you’re evangelising or when you’re serving or when you’re reaching out or speaking up for injustice or when you’re – we are with you. Whatever we’re doing, we’re doing together – we are partakers of the gospel. We are joined. We are not having our singular, independent, “good-works” program. This is a body that’s trying to do good together. And if you’re on your own trying to do it, that’s why you feel alone, that’s why you feel like a failure, that’s why you feel discouraged and that’s why you feel everybody else is judging you. Because you’re comparing yourself to the other members – but my left hand has never compared itself to my right hand. And my leg has never compared itself to my digestive system. Both of them have got their own and they all support one another.
We stir, we partake, we share. Romans 12:13 says, Contributing to the needs... We make it our ambition to say this is our family. If the family has a need, we step up. There’s never an occasion in your family when one of the children or one of the cousins or someone says I have this need and you’re like “naah none of us, we don’t have time. I don’t think – we’re not in a position right now.” You’ll make it your position; you’ll do something about it. You would even take a loan to help a family member. When you understand family from that point of view, why don’t you understand it from a church point of view. We will make concessions, we will make sacrifices to contribute to the needs of the saints.
Following is a list of the 59 one anothers of the New Testament.
The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament
1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)
8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
9. “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)
22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
59. “…Love one another.” (II John 5)
Take it forward
Prioritize God’s people. God, your personal family and then your church family. I will reach out to every member of my small group weekly to practice the one anothers. Fifty-nine of them, pick four – go for it.
Put others needs first. I’m not speaking good works here, I’m talking real church. Look for opportunities to meet your needs. All the needs are legit, but the needs of God’s people are God’s concern and when you meet God’s concern, God takes it upon himself, makes it plan to meet your concerns. And then He through you meets all the other concerns. So when you put what’s first first, what’s second, third and fourth get taken care of.