“Some people have the idea that the church is a place of warning: don’t do this; be careful about that; you are in danger of this; beware of that. They see religion as a series of red lights, stopping us just when we are getting up to speed and about to arrive someplace, causing us to live jerky lives, alternately accelerating and braking. I felt that way for many years, and I’m still not quite over thinking that the church is primarily interested in keeping me from making mistakes, from sinning, from going wrong. If that is what you think, I hope to change your mind. The primary concern of what we are doing together in this Christian life is to help one another get in on the whole thing, that we might experience a full life, not leaving anything out or settling for too little.”
For many years, Eugene Peterson has been one of my primary mentors. I never personally met the man, though he and I did exchange some letters in the early 1990’s. The mentoring that I have received from him has come through his writings. First and foremost, Eugene Peterson was a pastor, his books resonated in my heart because he described what I was feeling, what I was experiencing, what I was seeing, he helped me face both the joys and the sorrows of pastoral ministry, he helped me not to quit.
Recently, while reading one of Peterson’s sermons from his book As Kingfishers Catch Fire, the passions of our pastor’s hearts dovetailed once again.
For nearly twenty years now, my life has been intimately intertwined with the twenty-nine one another admonitions of the New Testament. I believe, with all my heart, that the One Another’s are God’s unique strategy to unify the individual members of His church and to conform them to the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not lost on Pastor Eugene, he got it! How do I know he got it? He said, “The primary concern of what we are doing together in this Christian life is to help one another get in on the whole thing…”
To get in on the whole thing, is to know and to experience the fullness of what God had in mind when He birthed the church in that Jerusalem upper room so many years ago. That place where the Holy Spirit descended when He found them to be in “one accord” (Acts 2:1), and also, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…” (Acts 4:32). This is what Jesus prayed for when He asked His Father that His followers might be one, just as He and His Father were one (John 17:11, 20, & 23).
The Christian life is a life together so that we may help one another discover all that God has in store for His children.