Thursday, May 7, 2009

One Anothering

Tim Chester posts some good stuff on "one anothering."

All the New Testament writers refer often to what we are to do to or for ‘one another’ (or ‘each other’ - the Greek is the same). This concept of ‘one anothering’ is a central feature of New Testament ecclesiology, albeit one which receives little attention in contemporary academic discussions. Some time ago I worked through these ‘one anothering’ statements and summarized them in to the following categories. (I’m posting them after a request to do so from someone who listened to my audio talks on ‘rethinking church’.)

* be at peace with one another, forgiving, agreeing, humble, accepting, forbearing, living in harmony and greeting with a kiss
* do not judge, lie or grumble
* show hospitality to one another
* confess your sins to one another
* be kind to one another, concerned, devoted, serving and doing good
* instruct and teach one another
* admonish, exhort and stir up one another
* comfort and encourage one another

Reflection questions
1. Which do you think you (as a church and as an individual) are good at?
2. Which do you think you (as a church and as an individual) are not very good at?
3. What stops you (as a church and as an individual) doing more ‘one anothering’?

I'd add another question; is my/your church structured in a way that inhibits these things from happening?

Here's the original post.


Johnnie said...

Lovely thoughts, truly. But aren't they somewhat at odds with the evangelical mission? How do you convert while "accepting?"? Isn't this very blog full of examples of "judging"? From Carrie Prejean to homosexuals to megachurch members/administrators, the entire enterprise here--and I do NOT mean this critically--seems to be set up to reject acceptance and to judge, sometimes quite harshly. And if evangelicals refuse to do those things, how do they, well, evangelize? You can't succeed with a message of "we accept you just as you are, and we would never judge, but, you know, we also think that unless you change you're going to burn in fiery pits forever and ever. Just saying."

Jeffrey Bruce said...

Hi Johnnie,

(1) Paul uses the phrase, "accept one another" in the context of Jewish/Gentile relations within the church (Rom 15:7; cf. chs. 14-15). I think you two are using the word differently.

(2) You can love a person/befriend them/do good for them while thinking there are major things in their life that need to change. I know my wife accepts me, but this doesn't preclude her from admonishing me to change my behavior. To the contrary, her love for me compels her to point out all sorts of things in my life that are sinful/destructive.

Unless, we conceive of "acceptance" as affirming all of one's beliefs/behaviors, I don't see any inherent conflict between loving/befriending people and persuading them to accept Christ.


Bill Faris said...

To speak to the issue of how churches are structured vis-a-vis "one anothering", I would like to quote from something I just read by (the very biased but nonetheless stimulating) Frank Viola who writes in Reimagining Church:
"The apostolic instructions concerning the church meeting are best suited for a small group setting like a home. The organic activities of the church, such as mutual participation (Heb. 10:24-25); the excercise of spiritual gifts (I Cor. 14:26); the building together of God's people into an intentional, face-to-face community (Eph. 2:21-22); the communal meal (I Cor. 11); the mutual love of members one toward another (Romans 15;14); Gal.6:1-2;James 5: 16, 19-20); the freedom for interactive sharing (I Cor. 14: 29-40); and the koinonia (shared life) of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17; 13:14) all operate best in a small group setting like a house.

Add to that, the fifty-eight 'one another' exhortations in the New Testament can only be fleshed out in a houselike environment".

I think it's obvious that traditional church services and even campuses are not structured to feature 'one another', but rather to feature worship teams, speakers, Sunday school teachers, and "fellowship" (i.e. coffee and donut time). Viola is truly right about that, with the results that people who have been faithful in their church FOR YEARS talk about how they no longer "get fed" at their church and must find another with "deeper teaching" (this very thing was said to me AGAIN last night at a table conversation).

I wonder how truly structuring for one another ministry and life might impact the phenomenon of Christian conosieurs who think they are looking for better sermons when in fact they may be looking for something more "one another" that challenges them to step up and matter to the kingdom beyond filling a seat, handing out bulletins or teaching Sunday School class.

Gosh, now I'm starting to sound prejudiced too, huh?!

Tara Ariel said...

I think there are two types of gatherings that are evident in the New Testament. I agree with Bill on the one hand and I think that is an almost daily kind of church that many christians desire today. The sunday service ,on the other hand ,isn't just for us; I think it is a public show of devotion and worship that is for everyone (believer and unbeliever). The Bible has examples of both home church and public mass gathering of worship taking place. I don't think we should practice either style exclusively. We are to observe all days as the Lord's day, but often we compartmentalize our religion from our daily life. We live everyday one way and practice our religion on Sunday only. We try to fit all our one anothering in on one day.
American's have become polarized in Christianity some saying they are of Apollos and others Paul. There are better ways of doing things, but the real issue with American church isn't the process it's the spiritual maturity. It reflects in the processes used.

there my two cents...Nate