As we read about following Jesus, we soon learn that Jesus wants his followers to help and encourage each other.  His well-known “new commandment” was that we love one another “as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

 

Jesus sent his apostles out to teach people to follow him by keeping his commandments (Matthew 28:18-20), and right from the start the followers of Christ “were together, and they had all things in common”.  They “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers” (Acts 2:44,42).

 

While each made their own decision to follow Christ, they didn’t go it alone. They stuck together.  They learned together, prayed together, and shared together.  The obligation to love one another was put into practice every day.  Today, as we read the teaching of the apostles in the letters (starting from Romans), we see that Christ-followers’ love for one another is to be practised by doing various things for one another.  Things like…

  • serving one another through love (Gal 5:13)

  • bearing one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)

  • encouraging one another (1 Thess 4:18; 5:11)

  • doing good to one another and to everyone (1 Thess 5:15; Gal 6:10)

  • stirring one another up to love and good works (Heb 10:24)

  • humbly, gently and patiently putting up with one another in love (Eph 4:2)

  • kindly and tender-heartedly forgiving one another (Eph 4:32)

  • singing to one another (Eph 5:19)

  • teaching one another (Col 3:16)

  • speaking the truth to one another (Eph 4:25)

  • submitting to one another (Eph 5:21)

  • admonishing one another (Rom 15:14)

  • living in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16; 15:5)

  • pursuing what promotes peace and what edifies one another (Rom 14:19)

  • accepting one another (Rom 15:7)

  • caring for one another (1 Cor 12:25)

  • confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another (Jam 5:16)

  • greeting one another with the kiss of love (1 Pt 5:14)

 

God clearly calls on his children to invest a lot of devotion towards their spiritual brothers and sisters, and that takes time spent together.  Some things we can do by phone, email or Skype; but things like sharing bread and grape juice when we have the Lord’s Supper  (as commanded by Christ — see 1 Cor 11:23-26; Acts 20:7) is something you can’t do unless you’re in the same place.  So finding other Christ-followers you can spend time with is important.

 

But many followers of Christ live a long way from others who are in Christ, so what can we do?  Some drive an hour or more to get together with their spiritual siblings at least once a week.  Some are out of regular travelling distance from others, so they simply break bread on their own.  When you think of it, even if there’s no one else within cooee (as far as you know) who is following Jesus Christ, walking in his way, that doesn’t stop you from doing what pleases him.  There’s no reason to give up on The Way and just play along with Churchianity.

 

Some who are isolated geographically get on-line and break bread at the same time as others far away.  This is where programs like Skype are such a blessing.  Also, there are city congregations that belong to Christ who stream their gatherings live, and isolated disciples watch and participate remotely in singing, praying, learning & being encouraged from God’s word, and having the Lord’s Supper.  It’s the best they can do for most of the time, but they do cherish the times when they can travel to get together with their spiritual rellies — and of course, they love it when siblings come their way to visit and encourage them.

 

Getting together (whether one-to-one, or in small or large gatherings) is clearly a necessary part of loving one another in God’s family.  Distance sometimes makes it hard, but love finds a way. 

GETTING TOGETHER

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Study the Bible by correspondence online
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