Our Life Together
In my devotions some time ago, I read through the New Testament letters, one after the other.
It struck me how the apostles give so much attention to our life together as believers in our Lord Jesus.
Again and again, they teach that all who know Jesus will live in a way that imitates Jesus. And the spirit that binds our life together will be love. Such love is expressed in the many “one anothers” of the New Testament, well known to us:
Forgive one another.
Love one another.
Be patient with one another.
Accept one another.
Show hospitality to one another.
Serve one another.
Then there is Philippians 2:1-4, an earnest plea for the unity of believers in Christ Jesus. “Be like-minded,” the Holy Spirit says in this chapter, “and have the same love. Put away selfish ambition, and live in lowliness of mind toward each other. Look out not only for your own interests but also the interests of others.”
Reading many chapters of this kind of instruction from Paul, Peter, John, James, and the writer to the Hebrews, the singular message really impressed me.
God wants believers to live together and to work together in peace, humility, love, and mutual service.
While I was reading, I also had the thought:
What would life be like in our churches if we actually lived like this?
What would happen to the fellowship in our congregations—and what would be our impact on the neighbours around us—if we were able, by God’s grace, to better put these things into practice?
We can be confident that God would show his favour if his people strived to live in unity and mutual love.
Certainly the opposite is true. We see the misery that results when we fail to accept one another or be patient with one another.
We see the hostility in congregations that have split into camps over matters that shouldn’t really matter so much. We see it in families torn apart by hurts that are now decades old, with the poison of unresolved conflict seeping into the next generation. We see it in brothers and sisters who can hardly bear to look at each on Sundays.
Misery will always abound when we reject God’s good way of life together.
How much healing would there be if we lived more by the New Testament principles of forgiveness, patience, and mercy? How much less complaining, and how much more comforting? Less headspace devoted to rehearsing arguments in favour of our position, and more heartspace devoted to praying for one another?
If we really “made every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” I am sure there would be fewer sleepless nights and probably less hypertension.
At the same time, we can be sure that there would be deep joy among us. New peace. Warm fellowship. Selfless service. Fresh hope. There would certainly be blessing, because this is God’s way.
If we care for the church of Christ and her communion, let it be our regular prayer that we would all gratefully obey the good commands of the Lord.
We pray that God would help us to live together peacefully and deal with differences wisely. And the purpose?
So that “you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6).