By: Gary L. Hutchens
A Christian is not an island unto himself. Rather, he is a living stone within the greater structure of the Lord’s church (1 Pet. 2:5). There is no way to be a Christian without being a part of the church, for the Lord personally adds to His church all who become Christians (Acts 2:47). As individual Christians, and as the church, we are to focus upon being examples to the world around us. As such, we should bring glory to God as we help the world see Christ in us (Matt. 5:13-16).
A big part of being that example to the world comes across in how we treat one another as members of the Lord’s church. Jesus commanded us to “love one another.” He applied this “commandment” as follows: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). The world should be able to see the Christ-like quality of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our Lord instructed us to teach the gospel message of salvation to the world (Mk. 16:15-16). But the world needs to see our Lord in us as we go about doing that teaching. Part of that image comes across in our relationship with each other: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17:20-21).
In his letter to the Romans, Paul gave some interesting instruction as to how we should look upon and treat one another as fellow Christians. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10). The particular word translated “love” in this passage is “agape.” This is the highest, most selfless form of love expressed in the Greek language. Its use here to describe the love we should have for one another as members of the church is impressive.
In addition, Paul used two qualifying terms that further illustrate the kind of love we ought to bear toward one another. “philostorgio” speaks of the kind of love that should prevail in a family relationship, and “philadelphia” means, literally, “brotherly love.” Used together, these three terms powerfully convey the importance of giving proper attention to nurture our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.
“In honor giving preference to one another” further emphasizes the selfless nature our love for one another is to exemplify. It speaks to a purposeful focusing on our Christian brother or sister rather than on ourselves, a desire to honor them rather than to seek honor for ourselves.
Many more verses could be referenced on the importance of our relationship as Christians within the Lord’s church. But even these few powerfully teach that we need to give proper, serious and ongoing attention to that relationship. We should not be careless about it. Our relationship is important to us and to how others, outside the church, see us as individual Christians and see the church as a whole. Let us properly consider one another and thereby glorify our Father in Heaven…
Gary L. Hutchens