“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
One another-ing. What does that even mean?? After a quick search, I turned up about 100 “one another” verses in the New Testament alone. Several of them are commands. We should:
- Love one another. (John 13:34, John 15:12)
- Show honor to one another. (Romans 12:10)
- Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:16)
- Comfort one another. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
- Carry one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
- Be kind to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Forgive one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Be honest with one another. (Colossians 3:9)
- Bear with one another. (Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:13)
- Teach one another. (Colossians 3:16)
- Encourage one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
And that’s not even the whole list! Where do we even begin? Who is this “one another” to which the scriptures keep referring? I think it’s best to take a page from the Master’s book and see how He practiced one another-ing on a very significant night in His life and ministry.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
On the night of his arrest, only hours before his brutal death, Jesus did something incredible. He humbly served and prayed for His disciples. John records how Jesus, God in the flesh, took on the job of a servant, knelt down and washed the filth off the feet of the twelve men that had followed Him for the past three years. I don’t want you to miss the significance of Jesus’ actions and whose feet He was washing.
“Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ . . . [Then] Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’”
Oh, the passion of Peter! Peter, my favorite disciple, was never lukewarm. It was all or nothing with him. At first, he wouldn’t have it. Jesus, his Messiah, was not going to wash his dirty feet, but then Jesus spoke a gentle reprimand, and now, he wanted Jesus to give him a bath! Yet, this is the same Peter that would later deny he even knew Jesus. And Jesus knew it. As He lovingly washed the grime from Peter’s sandal-worn toes, Jesus knew that one of his dearest friends would abandon him that very night.
There was also someone else there who would drive the knife into Jesus’ heart even deeper. Judas. Scripture records that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet before sharing with them in His last Passover meal. It was during that meal that Jesus announced His betrayal and Judas fled (see John 13:21-30). So, even Judas had his feet washed by Jesus. I am so humbled and convicted by this. What amazing grace Christ demonstrated when He knelt before his betrayer and loved on him even knowing his heart, full of greed, and the pain he would cause.
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given to me, for they are yours.”
As the day wore on, Jesus led a few of His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane where He spent His last moments of freedom praying. I don’t know about you, but if I knew what was coming (betrayal, beatings, shame and crucifixion), the only prayer that I would have been able to get out would be, “Lord, help me!” And Jesus did spend some time praying this way (see Matthew 26:38-44), but He also spent time praying for others. He prayed for His disciples. He prayed that He would be glorified in their lives. He made requests for their unity, their protection, their joy and their sanctification.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”
And He prayed for future believers. It is beyond incredible for me to think that centuries before I was even born, Jesus knew me and spent time praying for me. When I read these words it’s as though I am seeing my name recorded in the very words God breathed: “I do not ask for these only, but also for [Marie April Drakulic] who will believe in me.”
“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour?’”
What were the disciples doing while Jesus was praying for them? Sleeping! What have I done to show my appreciation for the Lord’s concern for me? I wasted years running from Him and denying Him with my actions. I made a mockery of my faith. He knew all this; yet, He still prayed for me.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Jesus showed us how to “one another” and who to “one another.” Certainly, we should do good and pray for all people, but there is something especially crucial when it comes to one another-ing among believers.
“O LORD, what should I request for your people?”
Hosea 9:14 NLT
Hosea’s plea came in the midst of watching the nation of Israel crumble around him. God had tolerated their sins and idol worship long enough. He was listing their punishments when Hosea interrupted with this desperate cry. How could he possibly help them? What should he even pray?
I read these words one Sunday morning after hearing another disheartening story the previous night. My heart has been so burdened for the missing connections and broken relationships in our church. Inside, my thoughts echoed Hosea’s words: O Lord, what should I even ask? How do I pray for Your people? Christians all over the world are united in Spirit as the body of Christ, but there is something very intimate about a local body of believers. The congregation, to which you are hopefully a part of, should function as family, and lately, I have felt like we are doing more tolerating one another than loving one another. By the grace, mercy and strength given to us through Christ, we can do better.
Maybe you haven’t been doing so well in the “one another-ing” department. Maybe you have been hurt by someone in the church, or there is someone who does ministry different than you and it really rubs you the wrong way. How could you start one another-ing them better? Maybe it seems too much to show them honor, but could you serve them in some small way? Is there a project for which they are seeking volunteers? Have they been sick or especially busy lately and a meal or a gift card to their favorite restaurant would be appreciated? Could you do something as simple as leave them a note of encouragement or bring them their favorite drink (coffee for me, please!)?
And if the hurt and frustration is so deep that we can’t even begin with these things, certainly, we can begin with prayer. If we can find words to speak about one another, then we can find words to pray for one another! In the midst of disappointment and even anger, I have found when I begin to pray for someone, my attitude starts to change. The Lord will give us compassion for one another and helps us extend grace—and we could all use a little more of that!
People are messy, and loving them isn’t easy sometimes (okay, a lot of the time). But Jesus set an example for us (see also Philippians 2:1-8). He pours into us so that we can pour into others. But if you find yourself dry today, with nothing left to give, it is okay to take time and reflect on the sacrificial love Christ demonstrated on that first Easter weekend so many years ago. Let Him fill you and refresh you. Then, go and share with one another!
I pray that the word of Christ would dwell in us richly, and that we would teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to You. And whatever we do, Lord, help us to do ALL in Your name and for Your glory. Help us to “one another” each other better. May You alone be glorified in our church, our home and in our lives. In Your name, we pray. Amen.
(see Colossians 3:16-17)
March 17, 2016
*Portions of scripture in bold reflect my added emphasis.