I am cast upon a horrible, desolate island, void of all hope of recovery. I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable. I am divided from mankind – a solitaire; one banished from human society…I have no soul to speak to or relieve me.
We have all heard the story of Robinson Crusoe. Once an exciting and original story, it has now become little more than cliché. Modern media has been plagued with movies and television shows that have adapted the theme first presented in Robinson Crusoe. They seek to answer the question of what happens when a person is cut off from society and from all luxuries and is forced to survive on his own?
Robinson Crusoe tells the story of an obstinate Englishman who ignored his father’s wish to become a member of the clergy, opting instead for a life at sea. No sooner had his career started than he suffered a shipwreck and was cast ashore alive but alone somewhere on an uninhabited island off the coast of the New World. With only the supplies he salvaged from the wreck of his ship he managed to build a house, a boat and something of a life for himself. Despite living in a beautiful, idyllic location Crusoe was never truly happy in his setting. The reason for his unhappiness was his solitude. It was not the climate, the food or setting that made him so desperately unhappy. Rather, it was the fact that he was alone, “singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable.” The island itself is not “a horrible, desolate island.” It became horrible because of Crusoe’s unbearable solitude.
This story speaks to a basic human need – that of community. Humans were created to be in community, both with each other and with God. Seven times in the story of creation (Genesis 1) God looked at what He had created and saw that it was good. What follows in Genesis 2 stands out in contrast. In a perfect and sinless world, where man enjoyed perfect community with his Creator, God, looking at His creation, said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The only thing in all of creation that was not good was man’s solitude. Though perfect, sinless and in perfect harmony with God, humans still needed to be in community with other humans. Thus God created woman to be a companion to man and to allow him true community. Though the world has changed since the advent of sin, the need for community remains.
We have seen that community is a foundational part of God’s design for humans. It should then come as no surprise that it is also foundational to the church. By studying redemptive history we come to see that the church is not something God invented because all His other plans had failed. Rather, the church was the culmination of all of God’s plans for His children. Church, when done the way God intends, gives us just a taste of the perfect community we will experience in paradise.
The Bible, and the New Testament in particular, have many teachings on the importance of community. By studying two simple phrases that appear time and again in the New Testament, we can learn of the requirements and beauty of true Christian community. The phrases “each other” and “one another” speak to relationships. They do not address a relationship to God or a relationship to oneself. Neither do they speak to a relationship with the universal church. Rather, they address interpersonal relationships within a community of believers. The teachings can be divided into four categories. They are Unity, Hospitality, Devotion and Edification.
Over the next few days we will take a look at each of these categories and the Bible passages from which they are drawn.
Here is a list of many of the passages that include the words “one another” or “each other.”
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another
John 13:34,1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11 (etc)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves
Live in harmony with one another
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God
I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Peter 5:14
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought
1 Corinthians 1:10, Phillipians 4:2
serve one another in love
bearing with one another in love
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing
1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:25
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds
Brothers, do not slander one another
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble
1 Peter 3:8
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling
1 Peter 4:9
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble
1 Peter 5:5
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin
1 John 1:7
Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other
1 Corinthians 12:25
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you
1 Thessalonians 3:12
Therefore encourage each other with these words
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other
1 Thessalonians 5:13
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else
1 Thessalonians 5:15
Keep on loving each other as brothers
Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective