Why devote our lives to one another in brotherly love? Why sacrifice for and serve one another in genuine Christian community? What’s the result of living our lives together the way Scripture calls us to? Does it matter whether we go through life as an individual follower of Jesus or as a fully involved member of a Jesus-following church?
Yeah, it matters a lot.
One, it brings glory and praise to God. Paul says we should accept one another just as Christ accepted us in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15;7). Loving and serving one another in Jesus’ name makes God’s love complete. The Christ himself says the selfless deeds done for others in his name causes the world to praise our heavenly Father. He tells his disciples in John 13 that if you love one another as I have loved you, everybody will know you’re mine. Everyone will know this is real. Our Christian fellowship marked by genuine love and service fulfills the very reason God created us and sent his Son here to save us.
It also reveals God’s power. Our God is strong when we’re weak; his power is made perfect in our weakness. And the more we open up with one another, the more of our lives we share with one another, the stronger and more powerful our God becomes. The sharing of our struggles and our weaknesses, the mutual bearing of one another’s burdens, opens our eyes to see more clearly what God is doing. I’d like us to demonstrate more of that even in our Sunday morning worship assemblies. The open and honest sharing of our lives and our struggles together should be a regular thing, not a rare thing. When somebody walks to the front to confess a sin or to repent from a wrong or to ask for prayers, there should be 20 or 30 brothers and sisters rushing to the front to be with him. Dozens of brothers and sisters should meet him or her right there on the spot, ready and eager to hug him and pray with him and confess with him, to encourage him and support him and lift him up. Our Christian community, our church, should be the safe place, not the last place, to share our struggles.
And we might say, but what will the visitors think? If we start doing this every Sunday, what will the visitors think?
Are you kidding me?!? Our God is at his strongest and most obvious in the humble recognition of our weakness. God works amazing wonders when we declare our dependence on him instead of ourselves. What will the visitor think? The visitor thinks, “Hey, I can really fit in with this church. These people have lots of problems, but they have God. And they have each other. They’re not pretending. They’re not playing. They’re not just doing church, they are being church.”
And that’s powerful.
Lastly, our Christian lives together, loving and serving each other in Christian community, is part of the salvation process. It’s part of what Paul calls “being saved.” We selflessly love and serve, we bear one another’s burdens the way Jesus does, and our thoughts become words. Our words become actions. Our actions turn into habits. Our habits become our character. And our character becomes our destiny. Life together is a significant part of being transformed into the image of our Savior. The more we serve, the more like Jesus we become. The more we love, the more burdens we bear, the more we consider the needs of others more important than our own, the more like our Lord we become. That’s sanctification. That’s preparation for living forever in the face-to-face presence of God. And that’s our salvation.
Again, our Christian friendships should be treasured, never assumed. Our time together should be cherished, never avoided. Opportunities to be together should be seized, never scorned.