South Vernon United Methodist Church
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pastor's Place

 

One Anothering

 

“One Anothering” is a book by Richard C. Meyer [1990 LuraMedia, San Diego, CA]. It is a book about small groups. In it he explores biblical building blocks for developing healthy small group dynamics. He bases his chapters around certain biblical commands or principles such as “love one another” from the thirteenth chapter of John. Other chapters are entitled, “Fellowship with One Another,” “Pray for One Another,” “Care for One Another,” and “Bear One Another’s Burdens” to name some of them. I am mentioning this because I believe they are descriptive of a healthy church. I am using them in a series of sermons that I hope will encourage us to develop healthy church habits.

The first sermon was entitled “Love One Another.” Successive sermons will be oriented around a theme of what it means to be a church that cares for one another. I see these sermons as part of our mission statement to “make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ, and minister to the needs of others in his name.”  In Acts chapter two verse forty-two we read, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” This is a description of the very beginning of the church. It was not a solo faith experience. It was not a lackadaisical faith. It had a purpose, it was determined, it was enthusiastic, and it was not careless or lazy without purpose or direction.

In John 17:20-26 Jesus prays for all those who will believe the witness of the disciples. He is praying for you and me and all those Christians who came before us and all those who will come after us. Jesus in this prayer is “One Anothering.” He is laying down a foundation of being the church of God. Foundational in this church is servanthood. It is the servanthood of believers to one another and to the world. It is this servanthood that is foundational to Christian faith and to being the church. Being a servant means we love one another, it means that we fellowship with one another, it means that we pray for one another, that we care for one another. Being a servant means carrying one an others burdens, seeking to strengthen one another’s faith; it means to encourage one another.

To be a Christian servant is not an easy task. It cannot be done in our own strength. It is done through the indwelling of the Spirit of God in us as individuals and through the indwelling of the Spirit of God through us the church. We are called to this purpose by God. It is not optional for it is of God. If we are to have any part of God we need to accept that this is our call.

I know that we can do it. Because the strength and wisdom of the task is not ours, it comes from God himself and his indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul in writing to the church at Philippi expresses this same confidence when he writes, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for you partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. [Phil. 1:3-6]” Similarly, Jude the brother of Jesus writes, “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only one God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. [Jude 24, 25]” What is being expressed is complete trust in the grace of God. A grace that works through faith in the redeeming work of God in the believer’s heart and life. 

Paul and Jude were confronting false teachers entering into the church. These false teachers taught different things. Some said it didn’t matter how you lived your life. Others placed such a burden of religious legalism that it worked against the fellowship of the church. In fact we still struggle with that today in our churches. Paul in writing to the Romans describes healthy habits of a Christian and of a healthy church body. In Romans 12:9-21, he describes about twenty-five healthy habits, he Writes, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, and serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly, never be conceited. Repay no one evil with for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I believe that in the scriptures all is given to us for a successful life in Christ together. I believe that the strength comes from God. Our responsibility is to be faithful stewards with the salvation he has given to us. God promises fruitfulness if we abide in him. Will you pray for me as I pray for you that we would truly abide in Jesus Christ for the glory of God? Amen.