“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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” — John 13:34-35
“About 20 years ago, a church member was considered active in the church if he or she attended three times a week. Today, a church member is considered active in the church if he or she attends three times a month.” —Thom S. Rainer
“Do not reduce church to listening to a podcast. It’s so much more than that. It’s community. It’s worshiping with others, praying for others, hurting with others, serving others, being involved in the lives of others.” — Craig Groeschel
There’s a downward trend in church attendance among Christian believers these days. Many point to the busyness of work schedules, children’s sports activities and other competing interests to explain the decline. Still others explain that it’s just easier to stay home and watch a sermon video podcast and put together your own favorite worship song playlist.
Many are asking, “Why do we even need to come to church worship services when we can just stay home, lay in bed and watch the sermon on our TV screens between our socked feet?”
They have a point. If church attendance is just about a passive hearing and watching of sermons and songs, why not stay at home and do it?
But what if coming together is about something more? What if it’s about something a lot more?
Remember Christ’s “new command?” He told his disciples that he had a new command for them, that they love one another just as he had loved them. But what was so “new” about this command? After all, the book of Leviticus already had the “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) command.
What was new about Christ’s new command? At least two things:
1. New focus. The original command called for love of neighbor, but the new command calls for us to love “one another.” That’s a new focus for loving because as believers, we’re invited into a new community, a new family, with Christ as its Head. We’re to have a special kind of love for other believers because we’re members of God’s family. Jesus said that “all people will know that you are my disciples” by this love for one another.
2. New quality. The former quality of love in the original command was to love your neighbor “as yourself.” But the new quality is to love one another as “Christ has loved us.” The command from Leviticus was based on obedience to God, “I am the Lord.” Now, the new command is based on Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We’re to love one another with Christ’s kind of love.
A survey of the New Testament shows that this new command from Jesus inspired a whole plethora of “one another” commands to help explain its implications. One Bible commentator counted 56 “one another” commands in the New Testament. What does it look like to love one another as Christ has loved us? Consider these other “one another” commands:
- “Live in harmony with one another . . .” (Rom. 12:16).
- “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you . . .” (Rom. 15:7).
- “… comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace . . .” (2 Cor. 13:11).
- “. . . through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
- “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
- “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up . . .” (1 Thess. 5:11).
- “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another . . .” (James 5:16).
- “. . . love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
- “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
When we look at all the “one anothers” in the Bible, we have to admit that they can’t be done at home alone. Perhaps thats why the author of Hebrews wrote this “one another” command, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25).
The Bible makes it clear that you can’t do the “one anothers” without coming together with one another.
See you this Sunday?