One-Anothering Well: Compassionate Community
In our previous message we learned that the essence of the Christian life is fellowship because of the essence of the gospel: Forgiven, forever changed, and placed into the family of God!
But what is the essence of fellowship? John, that rugged fisherman, son of thunder, and disciple whom Jesus loved, again gives us the answer: The essence of Christian fellowship is powerful love revealed in compassionate community.
A compelling community of believers (the local church) is the place where love is displayed not just discussed because those who assemble are Christian by virtue of regeneration, not mere religion. The new birth (not just beliefs) gives evidence of God’s life in us because of our committed love one to another.
Believers one-another well because they are committed to living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity - genuine fellowship built around healthy relationships. Biblical Christianity then is made manifest by demonstration (not mere declaration) of what love is and does. (From 1 John 3:10-19)
We close our series with some thoughts about one-anothering well - the essence of Christian life together:
1. Love Can Be Commanded because Love Is Commitment Not Mere Sentiment.
· Christ set the example first (John 13:34-35, 1 John 2:7-8, 2 John 5). In the OT the law demanded love (Lev. 19:17-18). But true to the law it makes demands but won’t lift a finger to help (2 Cor. 3:6)!
· In the NT the believer is commanded to love but now has the Holy Spirit of God indwelling to make such committed love possible. Love lifts a finger and helps (1 John 3:20-24, 4:13-21, Rom. 5:5).
· From the beginning the Christian would be known for their devotion to one another not their doctrine (1 John 3:11, 14-16). The evidence of Christ indwelling is sacrificial love not servitude to laws.
· John doesn’t diminish the importance of doctrine (1 John 2:3-6). He develops it (7-11). Christ indwelling produces biblical obedience with pure love being its crowning achievement (1 John 4:7-13).
2. Love Can Be Comprehended because Love Is Compassion in Action Not Merely Spoken.
· Generosity is the result of Christian love - compassion in action - because we really love one another. It’s demonstrative not just declared (1 John 3:16-19). We build our life together on giving not getting.
· The attitude of the believer is love out of gratitude to God for loving us. What He commands is never grievous because it proceeds out of Jesus’ love and is empowered by His Spirit (1 John 5:1-5).
We demonstrate our commitment to Christ by laying down our lives one for another in sacrificial love. God’s word boils it down to what really matters in life: Love. People. Healthy Relationships.
Fellowship then is the essence of the Christian life and love is the essence of fellowship. Christ died to make compassionate community possible; we’ll have to die daily to make it practical.
Let us not love in word, while in deed we hinder or harm our fellowship. We can get the doctrines of the Christian life right and miss their real meaning: Fellowship with Christ and one with another.
One-anothering well is the practice of oneness; the necessity of every one of us seeking to be and help each other become just like Jesus: That together we may “grow up into Him in all things.” (Eph. 4:15)
One-anothering well - living in unity, fervent charity, and growing in maturity - is a lifelong process of perfecting, of growing up into Christlikeness - a journey to be enjoyed; like fruit fully ripened.
These three values are what makes our church, as one helpful author said, a gospel-revealing, not just gospel-preaching, community; a church that “displays the power of the Word we hear through the community we see.”
Would you commit to making these values yours and one-another well? When each of us lives the gospel, we can be sure we’ll have a compelling community that demonstrates the life, light, and love of Jesus Christ to all. This my friend is compassionate community worth laying our lives down for that our joy may be full.