Friday, June 29, 2007

The Church versus the church, Part VI -- Those Pesky "One Another's"


This is my church. No, that is not me in the pulpit.
It's the district superintendent.

Once again I'm returning to the question of why it would not perhaps be better to practice a solitary Christianity, a relationship with Jesus Christ that allows one to worship, pray, read the scriptures, and generally believe in, follow, and love Jesus in the safety of our own private world. It would certainly be simpler and often safer.

Jesus, however, never instructed anyone to go it alone. He sent his disciples out two by two. Not long before his crucifixion, according to the Gospel of John, he prayed that the believers might be "one," love one another, and so on.

One another. There it is.

I cannot be "another" -- I can only be "one." There are biblical commands to love one another, honor one another, prefer one another, welcome one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, wash one another's feet, pray for one another, and many more. When I searched for biblical references to "one another" I was both surprisd and encouraged. I haven't counted, but I'm told it is found 60 times in the New Testament.

How am we to be obedient to these instruction? I can't do it by myself! Neither can you. We need a gathering of like-minded believers. I can't "welcome one another" or "spur one another on to love and good works" if I am not somehow joined with others who make up a visible and local part of the great (but invisible to us) Church of Jesus Christ. The "Church" is glorious, and somewhat mystical, but the "church," on the other hand, is made up of very flawed, human, broken people. Like me. Like us. Here are a few glimpses of some of the others at my particular place to call "church."




























Here you see us coming to worship together, singing, preaching, loving each other, having fun together, teaching children, studying the Bible, taking a break after a busy morning at an inner-city outreach, getting ready for a parade, dedicating a baby boy to the Lord, showing off trophies, and on it goes. Why all the pictures? Because all these things go better with more than just one. And don't we look like we are enjoying one another?

I hope this Sunday finds you in church. I'd be so happy to see you!

16 comments:

Kris Halseth said...

If you are alone you lose SO much. You lose the joy of seeing others laugh. You lose the connection of crying together. You lose the wonder of watching someone grow and mature. You lose out the chance to help someone in a way only you can.
Yes it hurts a LOT to be hurt, but the pain is worth the love

Quotidian Grace said...

What a lovely photo essay, SO. Those pictures really emphasize your point!

RevRosa said...

AMEN!

Gannet Girl said...

Oh, this is a beautiful entry!

Anonymous said...

Bummer. One of the themes that resonates most deeply in me is "I stand alone". The Godsmack song even became a personal call to arms. I simply work better that way.

Nightmare

Singing Owl said...

Hmmmm...Nightmare, my friend, you might have to ponder whether you are going to heed Jesus or Godsmack.... :-) I know you are kind of a loner guy. There are lots of loners out there. But Jesus never once said, "Stand alone." There is a place for you too, and it is not only for your good. It is for the good of the rest as well. (((((P.E.))))))

Singing Owl said...

I have to modify that last comment. IF you are standing alone because you are doing what is right and no one is with you, then stand alone. But that is another issue.

cheesehead said...

This is lovely.

Why have we not met yet in person?

Anonymous said...

It's my cynical nature. Harder to stab me in the back if I never take my eyes off someone. Rule #1 is "don't trust anyone". If I expect the worst, it's a pleasant surprise when it doesn't happen.

Nightmare

Maggie Rose said...

the agony-and-the-ecstasy of community. oh. yeah. quite a gift of the Holy Spirit (said both sincerely and with a touch of cynicism) still in all: it's the preferred way.

and Nightmare I don't know you; we've never been introduced but let me say that standing in the margins of community IS permitted. just keep the community in sight, accept the smiles that are sent your way, and contribute as you feel comfortable doing. your way counts. give as you can not as you "must" if that makes sense.

Singing Owl said...

I like that "standing in the margins" thing...and accepting smiles...etc. Thanks, MR. Hey Nightmare (who is not a nightmare at all, but a wonderful man) can you accept those smiles? I hope to see you soon. May be in TC a bit this week.

Anonymous said...

I can accept smiles. My last couple encounters with the 'church' left a bad taste in my mouth. I see a lot of people in Church doing a world of good, so I know it's possible. Can't see myself ever giving up, but I'm a lot more selective about the battles I choose now.

Nightmare

P.S. Thank you Singing Owl and Maggie Rose, and I hope you both have a great 4th.

Singing Owl said...

NM, I agree about choosing our battles carefully! I do that one too...a lot more than I used to. I sent you an I.M. Give me a call if you can, or an email.

Sally said...

beautiful pictures- a sermon in themselves :-)

Lorna (see through faith) said...

I hope this Sunday finds you in church. I'd be so happy to see you!

Sadly I won't be.
though I'd love to be visiting yours

Kievas said...

There is power in community, but also the inevitable discomfort--conflict, disappointment, disagreement. Still, I think that God formed us to be part of a body. When it functions well, it can move mountains.