Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One Anothering

The New Testament picture of Jesus Christ's disciples is not that of reclusive individuals withdrawn from society, but of those who are in the world but not of it. Some have emphasized going into all the world to the extreme of forgetting "one another" while going. Someone coined the phrase "one-anothering" to describe the care, fellowship and interconnectedness of the people called Christ's little flock. I recently read an online article entitled "Being the Church...Not Just Going to Church". In a day when programs, parties, games and gimics launch an all-out assault to get people to "go to church", maybe we need to remember to "be the church". May God grant some of the "one another" passages call us to this remembrance.

Wash the feet of one another
John 13:14 - If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
Love one another
John 15:17 - These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Receive one another
Romans 15:7 - Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Greet one another
II Corinthians 13:12 - Greet one another with an holy kiss.
Serve one another
Galatians 5:13 - For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Submit to one another
Ephesians 5:21 - Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Bear the burdens of one another
Galatians 6:2 - Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Forbear and forgive one another
Colossians 3:13 - Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Comfort one another
I Thessalonians 4:18 - Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Exhort one another
Hebrews 10:25 - Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Confess to and pray for one another
James 5:16 - Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.

"We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows,
A sympathizing tear." - John Fawcett


Anonymous said...

I agree with everything until this one item was included: Wash the feet of one another
John 13:14 - If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

Sorry, I don't walk about in sandals and deserts. Feet washing has absolutely no meaning in a modern society.



R. L. Vaughn said...

Jim, thanks for your comments. Let me address a few things.

I want to mention that I did not include that first as a matter of priority, but simply because it appears first in the Scriptures. Nevertheless, I would disagree with you on point. I do not think we should judge a practice based on its meaning (or lack thereof) to modern society. Baptism and communion would have no meaning to a modern society that is not familiar with Christianity (or perhaps Judaism). No doubt there was the practical reason for feet washing that you mention. But there was also feet washing and other washings ceremonially within Judaism. So we should not get stuck on that one understanding.

But more importantly, it seems that John sets this is a vastly different context than we often assume. If we survey the text, it is observable that Jesus did not have street dirt on His mind when He washed His disciples' feet. If not, before the sovereign Lord of the universe made Himself lower than a servant to stoop at His disciples feet, what was He thinking?

Jesus, knowing that He was come from God and went to God, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet. Jesus, knowing that the devil had put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Him, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet. Jesus, having loved His own, He loved them unto the end, and rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet. Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet.

A decent argument can be made that feet washing relates to the humbling of Christ in the form of a servant to become obedient to the death of the cross, (cf. Phil. 2:5-8 and Mark 10:42-45, for example), and I am of the opinion that there is some correspondence between Jesus washing His disciples' feet and His daily interceding for His people. If we can teach that by portraying it literally as Jesus did, I don't see why any would object.

I would finally argue that feet washing is in fact commanded, whether we interpret it literally, symbolically, spiritually, or some combination of all these three.


R. L. Vaughn said...

Jim, my comments last night got rather lengthy and kind of away from the original intent of the post.

So I just thought I'd say here that the "one-anothering" that we learn through "washing feet", whether spiritually or literally, is the more important part that I want to come across, rather than who might be right about the interpretation of John 13. When Paul said "we are not our own", he had in mind our purchase by Jesus Christ. It also true that "we are not our own" -- and are not alone -- but part of a community of believers whose minds and hearts should be on one another.