Before and After
I have been a pastor for 45 years. In those years, my eyes have been opened to simple, yet powerful strategies that God has placed within His Word, strategies to shape His church to be all that He desires her to be. One of these discoveries was 29 One Another admonitions that are found in the New Testament. I had been reading over and around these admonitions for years before the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to their true purpose for Christ’s church, that being, they are God’s unique strategy for conforming the members of His church into the image of His Son.
The Bible tells us that the salvation of mankind is a sovereign work of God. In the first chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says that every believer was chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world. He also tells us that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and that not of our own doing. Upon being saved, God begins a refining process in the life of the believer.
Part of God’s refining, or sanctifying process is that every believer becomes an active participant in the Body of Christ, His church. It is here that God begins the sanctification process which includes the practicing of the 29 One Another commands.
The church is much like a rock tumbler that is used for shaping and polishing rocks. A rock tumbler is a revolving drum that is filled with various grits of sand into which one places rocks to be polished. Once the rocks and sand are in the tumbler, it is turned on, so that the drum begins to rotate, causing the rocks and the sand to tumble together. Now, this process may take days or even weeks, but the end result is that the rough rocks that went into the tumbler come out as shining gemstones. Slowly but surely, the sand has worn through the rough exterior of the rocks and exposed the true beauty of the stone that was hidden inside.
We, the individual members of the local church, are like the stones placed into the rock tumbler. As the shaping process begins, we are rough and as different as night and day, we come from different backgrounds, we are of different sexes and races, we are of different ages, different temperaments, possessing differing talents and gifts. How is it that God is going to shape us and unify us for one purpose and teach us to love one another? By our obedience to the One Another admonitions.
When that rock tumbler called, the church, begins to rotate, the individual members within begin to rub up against one another and the only way that that rubbing produces unity and love instead of irritation is when we, filled the Holy Spirit, endeavor to obey the commands to, Love One Another, Forgive One Another, Pray for One Another, Confess our sins to One Another, Bear One Another’s Burdens, Regard One Another as more important than ourselves, Refuse to complain about One Another, Show tolerance for One Another, Comfort One Another, Serve One Another, etc.
In John 17 Jesus prayed three times that we would be one as He and the Father are one. What is the result of such unity? That the world would recognize that He is indeed its Messiah. Also, in John 13, Jesus gave a new commandment, “Love one another just as I have loved you.” Why? So that the world will know that we are His disciples.
Unity and love among the children of God is powerful and undeniable evidence to a watching world that Jesus is who He claims to be and that we truly are His disciples. To make this happen, God has placed us in His Church, and called us to obey One Another commands. This is His strategy for building His Church and conforming His children into the image of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18). Then, the world outside of our doors will see the reflection of Jesus in us and be drawn to the light so that they may be introduced to Him.
This is why I wrote the book The One Another Project.