Did We Forget about One-Anothering?

One of the marks of my church, Providence Bible Fellowship, is “one-anothering.”  If you’ve been through the Membership Class, you’re familiar with this. We want to take seriously the New Testament’s forty-seven commands to “one another”–love, accept, serve, counsel, forgive, greet, encourage, pray, and more! This can look like all kinds of things in a practical sense. The goal, of course, is to live out a thick, relational fellowship within the body of christ at PBF. We believe shouldn’t be unique to us, but true of all local churches.

One of the central pieces of this one-anothering involves speaking God’s Word to one another. This might be in a one-to-one Bible reading context or a much simpler time of talking about the most recent sermon over a cup of coffee. The point is actually live out commands like the one Paul gives in Colossians 3: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col 3:16). The picture is of the message of Christ having its home among us as Christ’s people. Our worship and our fellowship should be marked by a Word-centeredness

So, as much as the Scriptures are read, believed, prayed, obeyed, and shared by individuals, they should also be read, believed, prayed, obeyed, and shared amongst the church as a whole. Not just in our formal gatherings on Sunday, but in the informal gatherings we should be seeking out during the week.  This should happen “richly”–that is, deeply and meaningfully. That means it must become a priority in our lives, which may be the hardest point of application. And this problem isn’t new. Charles Spurgeon lamented how little Christians talked about spiritual things in the late 1800s.  

It is, however, much to be regretted that true children of the Lord often talk too little of him. What is the conversation of half the professors of the present day? Honesty compels us to say that, in many cases, it is a mass of froth and falsehood, and, in many more cases it is altogether objectionable; if it is not light and frivolous, it is utterly apart from the gospel, and does not minister grace unto the bearers. I consider that one of the great lacks of the Church, nowadays, is not so much Christian preaching as Christian talking,—not so much Christian prayer in the prayer-meeting, as Christian conversation in the parlour. 

How little do we hear concerning Christ! You might go in and out of the houses of half the professors of religion, and you would never hear of their Master at all. You might talk with them from the first of January to the last of December; and if they happened to mention their Master’s name, it would be, perhaps, merely as a compliment to him, or possibly by accident. Beloved, such things ought not to be. 

You and I, I am sure, are guilty in this matter; we all have need to reproach ourselves that we do not sufficiently remember the words of Malachi, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”*

How do we that?  First, we have to have something to talk about.  In that same sermon quoted above, Spurgeon suggests we use Psalm 145:11 as the template for our discussion.  There the psalmist says, “They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power.”  What shall we talk about?  The glory of God’s kingdom and power. To speak of his kingdom is to speak of his character, promises, holiness, and plan in history.  It is plumb the depths of passages like the Sermon on the Mount and consider how we ought to live in the kingdom. To speak of his power is to talk about what he is doing in your local church and around the world.  How do we see him fulfilling his promise to build his church?  How do we see him pushing back the dark corners of the sin and bringing light to the nations?  There is no end to such conversations!

But this also requires time. Most of us find ourselves, whether by the consequence of our responsibilities or neglect of a good calendar, to be very busy. But commands like this one have to find a place in our schedules. It begins as a matter of obedience. But then ends as a matter of ministry and encouragement–for others and ourselves!  Part of the means God uses to sustain in our walk with him is the community of faith. We need each other.  And one of God’s prescribed ways for us to build up one another is by talking about him

If your church has no midweek gatherings, considering filling that time by meeting with one or two other members. Find a place for you to meet for dinner, coffee, or a Coke, and spend an hour glorying in God’s kingdom and power. So much more could be said here. In the mean time, be encouraged and challenged in these things once more by the Prince of Preachers: 

Souls are often converted through godly conversation. Simple words frequently do more good than long sermons. Disjointed, unconnected sentences are often of more use than the most finely polished periods or rounded sentences. If you would be useful, let the praises of Christ be ever on your tongue; let him live on your lips. Speak of him always; when thou walkest by the way, when thou sittest in thy house, when thou risest up, and even when thou liest down, it may be that thou hast someone to whom it is possible that thou mayest yet whisper the gospel of the grace of God. 

Many a sister has been brought to know the Saviour by a sister’s pleadings that were only heard in the silence of the night. God give you, beloved, to fulfil our text! “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power.” They shall do it, mark you; God will make you do it if you are his people. Go and do it willingly. Begin, from this time forth, and keep on doing it for ever.

Amen, Charles. 

*Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christian Conversation” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. Access online: https://archive.spurgeon.org/sermons/2695.php 

Note: A version of this post also appeared on the Providence Bible Fellowship Blog.

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