by Doy Moyer
Christians share together a bond in Christ. We often stress the need for personal responsibility and individual accountability, yet we should also see that Christianity is built upon a “one another” model. God did not intend for us to walk alone in our journey of serving the Lord. This is demonstrated through a number of passages, but perhaps the most obvious way to see it is in Jesus’ own statement: “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).
“Church” (ekklesia) refers to a group or assembly and does not refer to one person alone. Christ promised to build a group of people who would serve Him, and, again, while individual responsibility is vital (Ephesians 4:16), the idea was never for one Christian to be an island with no contact, help, or love from other Christians. Paul wrote that walking in a “manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” includes having humility, gentleness with patience, and “bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). “One another” is a key to our walk.
Jesus told His disciples to “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The relationships we have with other Christians are important enough that Jesus said this would serve as proof of discipleship. Paul told his readers that “through love” they are to “serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Christians cannot afford to try to walk alone in serving the Lord, for they would be neglecting one of the most important features of love and service: one another.
Not only are Christians to love and serve one another, but they are also to “outdo one another in honor” and “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:10, 16). They are to “welcome one another” (Romans 15:7) and “Greet one another” (Romans 16:16). Paul wrote, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). They should speak to one another in song (Ephesians 5:19) and submit to one another in reverence (Ephesians 5:21). James wrote, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:15). We can keep going with a multitude of such “one another” passages, each strengthening the idea that Christians are meant to be together so that they can support and help each other.
One of the most important aspects of our togetherness is that of strengthening each other and lifting each other up in the face of potential discouragements. Encouragement is necessary for edification, and these require "one another" interactions. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11). The Hebrews writer is clear on the need for encouragement, especially given the context that there were Christians who were tempted to leave Christ for their old ways.
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14).
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
These passages show us the importance of patiently encouraging and strengthening one another in faith because there is always a danger of drifting away from the Lord. To that end, God has given His people the gift of each other, and this is not to be taken lightly or dismissed. Through pride one might like to think, “I don’t need help” and “I can do this on my own,” but the Lord knows us better than that. He built His church so that His people would not be alone and could lean on one another through the good and bad.
Relationships are vital in Christ and God knew what He was doing in His wisdom to create a circumstance in which people must cooperate, work together, love together, and edify one another. This is such a critical aspect of Christianity that John wrote, “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (I John 4:21).
Let us, therefore, take care of one another and never neglect this special gift that is so integral to being His church.