First of all, I apologize for the delay between the last post and this one. Not that anyone was pacing the floor in anticipation, but I have been spending a great deal of time delving into the New Testament “one-anothers.” I hope that you will find the delay, and work therein, worth it.
Today I spent the better part of the afternoon going through the New Testament and reading each of the “one-another” statements in their proper context. I had previously made a tidy list of each of them a few weeks back, and today sorted it, re-sorted it, and assigned a few categories to them. Each of these slow steps has been rewarded with two responses: awe and comfort. Those two words do not usually find themselves parked parallel to each other. They make for odd partners, unless you are talking about Christ. Then, awe and comfort dwell together, and overlap.
How can awe and comfort walk side by side? Let me give an example of how they do not go together, as it is often better to find out what-not-to-do in order to find out what-to-do. So, let’s imagine that I am taking a Sabbath stroll around our family’s woodlands and happen to see a migrating bald eagle gliding on the column of thermals above me (this actually happened last weekend). The size of the eagle and its wing span evokes awe. It is a grand sight; there is awe present, but there isn’t any comfort in this encounter. Let’s then suppose that a friend is hurting, you and I go to visit with, encourage, and pray for him or her. They are comforted. But, unless you are much more compassionate than I am — which is not hard because I am a left-brained and un-emotional sort of fellow — and can pray with the very breathe of heaven, there is no awe. So, awe and comfort can be induced by an encounter and result in an internal sensation, yet the two rarely walk the same path.
So, for comfort and awe to exist together, there has to be something unusual present. That missing element is a combination of grandeur and love. That is Jesus.
In John 1:14 the apostle states:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John provides a Post-It note-sized portrait of Christ: full of glory as the Son of God, displaying both complete grace and eternal truth. Grace and truth; love and verity; comfort and grandeur.
So, Jesus brought grace and truth, or grandeur and love, into full view for John, and brings it to us still.
How does this tie into the “one-anothers?” In the “one-another” principles Jesus tells us how to live out grace and truth, as He did. Then, through living them out among fellow believers we know awe and comfort, courtesy of the Spirit of Christ.
We have begun a walk through the “one-anothers” of the New Testament that I have compared to a journey along a highlands fence line that separates God’s obedient sheep from the rest. It is a tough walk. But, what we will see in this walk through God’s commands for believers for living out our faith in Christ together will illicit awe, and comfort, often at the same time.
Here is a peek around the corner of what is to come. The “one-another” commands are:
- Comprehensive – they cover the entire scope of the Christian life. There isn’t anywhere that we will walk that will not have this fence of separation and protection present.
- Cohesive – they unite us, and build further oneness in Christ.
- Adhesive – they cause our lives to meld together by the bond of the Holy Spirit, and by the display of true love which can draw us even closer to each other.
- Continual – they are on-going, ever-binding, and ever-lasting
- Specific – there is no room left for misunderstanding them, or claiming that they are vanilla statements that result in a common response on our part. Check out the last part of 1 Peter 4:9 for a prime example of this specificity.
- Demanding – they call us to look to, rely upon, and yield to Christ, not ourselves or default attitudes.
Knowing these facts will help us get our feet set on the rocky path, and in turn we will walk with a steady and more discerning pace.
These astounding princples are at the same time the fuel, engine, chassis, and lubrication for mutual life and community in Christ.
So, grab your Bible and look up some of the “one-anothers.” You will be stunned at the breadth and depth of them. You too will sense awe and comfort. Both are needed as we walk with Christ, and with one another, on this journey to live and love as Christ did.