Recently our small group has been going through the “one anothers” in the New Testament and looking at how believers are to relate to one another. I have been struck at how much importance the NT places on the relationship of believers to one another. This is a very special bond that we enjoy as followers of Christ. 1 Cor. 1:30 tells us that we are “in Christ”, and this is only by God’s choice, there is nothing that we have done to deserve this relationship with Christ. Those in Christ have become a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are united in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). It is this sharing of the same Spirit that unifies believers in a very special relationship. 1 Cor. 12 goes on to say that each member is important to the overall function and health of the body. There is no doubt that there is great diversity, and differing roles, among the members of the body, but these differences do not affect the fundamental unity that we share in Christ through the indwelling of the same Spirit. Diversity of gifting and roles actually contributes to the function and health of the body.
As believers we are not called to isolate ourselves from the world. We need to care for our families, share the good news, be good members of society, etc. But a believer’s relationship with other believers is to be a top priority to ensure a healthy body. Paul spoke against divisions in the church because he knows that these divisions are not healthy for the church and affect the way the world views the church, and ultimately Christ himself. Ideally, the church will be known as followers of Christ by its love for one another (John 13:35).
On our own, unity is not possible, but through the Holy Spirit each believer can now live as God has intended. The Spirit makes it possible for believers to:
Love one another; prefer one another; be devoted to one another; be of the same mind toward one another; accept one another; admonish one another; care for one another; serve one another in love; not provoke and envy one another; bear one another’s burdens; show tolerance to one another; be truthful to one another; be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another; be subject to one another; regard one another as more important than yourself; bear with one another; teach one another; love one another; comfort, encourage, and be at peace with one another; seek good for one another; pray for one another; stimulate one another to love and good deeds; fellowship with one another… and more! (John 13:34, 15:12; Rom. 12:10,16; 13:8, 15:5,7,14; 1 Cor. 12:25; Gal. 5:13,26, 6:2; Eph. 4:2,25,32, 5:21; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:13,16; 1 Thess. 3:12, 4:18, 5:11, 5:13, 5:15; 1 Tim. 2:1; Heb. 10:24)
The vastness of this list emphasizes the importance of believer’s relationships with one another. I encourage each of us to consider how we can cultivate and grow our relationships with others in the body so that we can contribute to the health and function of the body and enjoy this special relationship that we have in Christ!