“I can worship God in the deer woods just as good as I can at church.”
“There is nothing more peaceful than being on my hands and knees in my flowerbed. I can sense God’s presence outside better than anywhere else. Why do I need to meet with a group of people when I can find God right here?”
“I read my Bible every morning before I leave home. Then I pray and read my daily devotional. God and I are doing just fine without going to church every week.”
“My favorite day is Sunday. I get in my car and ride the backroads. I talk to God and listen to music. That’s where I do church.”
Some of the deepest moments I’ve ever had with God were when I was alone with Him in nature. So, what’s wrong with doing it alone?
All the “One Anothers”
The phrase “one another” is used one hundred times in the New Testament. Forty-seven of these verses are directed at followers of Christ. (1) If there are that many references to “one another,” it seems that being together with other believers is a vital piece of the Christian’s daily life.
According to Jeffrey Kranz, one-third of these “one another” verses reference unity with other believers. Another one-third talk about how we are to love each other. (1)
Here are some examples:
“Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13b).
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10).
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
We must have other believers in our lives if we are truly able to fulfill the “one anothers” of scripture.
The author of Hebrews says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (10:25).
There’s that phrase again. One another. It’s impossible to fulfill this instruction to encourage one another if there is no “one another.” We can meet with God in the quietness of nature every day of the week, but at some point, we must come together with other believers and encourage each other.
Jesus often pulled away. He spent forty days in the desert. Prayed many times in solitude. But he always came back and met with his disciples and his followers. We must spend time with God in the quietness, but then intentionally meet with others, worship together, and mutually build one another up.
“Church hurt” is a phrase I’ve heard in Christian circles in the last few years. When there are people involved, feelings will get hurt. Words can be said in haste. Decisions may be made without deeper consideration. Personal agendas are often brought into meetings. And somehow, somewhere, another human being will ding us.
But if that is our reason for pulling away from fellowship with others, if that is the basis for all our church expectations, we are going to miss God’s design for true relationships.
Real, authentic, God-centered relationships look more like Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Sharpening a piece of iron requires scraping, rubbing, and banging. We are going to have times in relationships where we are scraped, rubbed, and banged, but we go to one another and talk. We ask for forgiveness and talk through the hurts, and as iron sharpens iron, we get stronger and more effective because of the tough stuff.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” No matter what our struggles, heartaches, or issues, God designed us to lean on each other, confess our failures to close confidants, and stand in the gap in prayer for one another.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is probably my favorite passage about being in a relationship with others. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
As God shows up in our own lives—freedom from addiction, healing from disease, hope after divorce, grace in parenting, redemption from our past, comfort in our grief—we have the great privilege of extending that freedom, healing, hope, grace, redemption, and comfort to others. What a beautiful picture of His redeeming grace.
If you aren’t connected with other believers through a Bible study, recovery group, or local church, my New Year’s challenge to you is to ask yourself why.
God never intended for us to do life alone, especially our faith-life.
We were made for community.
Maybe it’s time to try “one anothering”. . . again.
© Copyright Christy Bass Adams, January 2022
All scripture from NLT Version, All graphics from Canva
Reference: (1) https://overviewbible.com/one-another-infographic