The “One Anothers”

heartWhen asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God”. He went on to say that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:37-39). It is interesting that when asked about which was the first, He went on to add the second. From this we gather the importance of the second as well as the first. But loving unspecified others is hard, especially for an introvert like me. What does it even mean, to love others?

Last night while reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book Saved Without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation, I came upon a list of what he calls the ‘One Anothers’ that outlines the Biblical answer to the question of what God expects when He commands us to love our neighbors.

Here is what we are to do:

  • confess our sins to one another (James 5:16),
  • forgive one another (Col. 3:13),
  • bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2),
  • rebuke one another (Titus 1:13 NIV),
  • comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18),
  • encourage one another to do good (Heb 10:24-25),
  • edify one another (Rom 14:19 NIV),
  • counsel one another (Rom 15:14),
  • submit to one another (Eph 5:21 NIV),
  • instruct one another (Col 3:16)
  • be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9-10),
  • bear with one another (Col 3:12-13),
  • pray for one another (James 5:16),
  • serve one another (Gal 5:13).

May God Bless your efforts.

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Proof

“I’m not saying there isn’t the possibility of ‘God’, but I want PROOF…” This is a comment that was posted in response to a blog post by a self-proclaimed atheist. When I read that comment, my first thought was “Sure, who doesn’t?” As I have mentioned, I came to God later in life and, I believe as a result, I struggle tremendously with doubt. My daughter-in-law was raised in a Mennonite community and says she cannot remember a time when she did not believe. She tells me I’m lucky because I don’t take my faith for granted. Still, I long for the peace that I imagine must come from never having doubted.

Sometimes I think about the Apostles. They looked into his earthly face of God almost daily and after three years still did not know who they were looking at. At one point, Philip looked Him in the face and said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:8) I can imagine Jesus staring back at him in amazement and then shaking His head. He answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9) So, I think maybe it is not an easy thing to recognize God, especially later in life.

In another blog post, I read a comment in which an individual described praying a prayer of redemption as “an experiment” to see if “anything would happen.” I remember distinctly when I prayed a prayer of redemption and believe me, something happened. I was trying to get through A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Everyone was reading it at that time and I was having a second go at it. The first time I put it down because I just didn’t find it very inspiring or insightful. This time I made it a little further into it and came across a prayer of redemption the author had included. I prayed it. I prayed it earnestly, after all I was reading Mr. Warren’s book seeking answers. Whatever happened after that is hard to describe and I feel like a ‘crazy church lady’ just writing about it. Suffice it to say that my life is almost unrecognizable to me now.

At any rate, the point I’m try to make is this: the proof of God’s existence is not something we can show to someone else. It’s not a thing they can look at or study and say ‘Oh, yeah, now I understand. Of course God must exist. That proves it.’ No, we have to look for that proof ourselves. God seeks a heart that seeks Him. We cannot just wait for some ‘proof’ to be shoved under our noses because even if it was, we wouldn’t recognize it. But if we look for it, then we will find it.

Wolves and Vipers

I’m not gonna lie; I didn’t always read the Bible much (or at all). I became a Baptist at the tender age of 35 and would read the Bible on occasion. Or maybe I’d start one of those ‘Read the Bible Through in a Year’ programs that kick off on New Year’s Day. I made it up to 1 Kings. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get much out of the meager amount of time and effort I spent with God’s Word. As shocking as it is to say, I just didn’t understand the utility of it.

Wolf SnarlingI bring this up because this morning in my WordPress feed I read a post about Christianity and (or versus) Feminism. The post drew on a number of different sources and provided thoughts on what Feminism is or isn’t and, of more interest, on what Christianity is or isn’t. This post was an illustration of one reason reading the Bible is important—and useful. We know the way is hard and the gate is narrow. We know there are few that find their way through. What is the effect of this? The effect is that there are a number of professing Christians running around “lost as a goose,” as the preachers use to say. How can we are we to identify these people or groups that misrepresent biblical teachings, either intentionally or through ignorance? The answer is that unless we read and understand the Bible, we can’t. The Bible is the measure by which we determine whether a particular teaching is sound. Snake (young)The Bible tells us that we are “sheep among wolves” and exhorts us to be “as wise as vipers” in response (Matthew 10:16). To recognize the wolves, we must have the wisdom that comes from knowledge of God’s Word.

So, how did I come to be a person that reads the Bible? Oddly (or perhaps not), it happened almost without me knowing it. As I have mentioned, I experienced a major step forward in my faith when I was 50. At the time, I was experiencing some pretty serious trials at work. I turned to God’s Word for answers and found that the more I read, the more I wanted to read.

Now, keep in mind that research is second nature to me. I never met a footnote I didn’t like. At work, I joked that I was paid by the pound of paper documents I produced. Although it may seem perfectly obvious, it took me fifteen years to understand that my primary spiritual gift is the pursuit of knowledge. I believe it is this spiritual gift, received (but insufficiently used) when I first became a Christian, that ultimately led me to desire to read the Bible. While the means by which each individual is drawn to the Word may vary according to gifts or circumstances, of one thing I am certain—knowledge of the Bible is a Christian’s protection during our earthly journey.