I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is Dr. Eric Mason’s book Unleashed: Being Conformed to the Image of Christ.
Dr. Eric Mason is the founder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship and Thriving Inc., an urban ministry organization committed to training leaders. God has enabled Dr. Mason to preach the gospel in such a way that men and women of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities can connect with and commit to Jesus Christ. His latest book is a must read for those of you who have committed your life to Jesus but are asking, “Now what?” I encourage you to pick up a copy to learn what it means to unleash God’s power in your life. Below is an excerpt from Unleashed that I hope you will enjoy.
One of the central ways in which we as believers are grown into the image of Jesus is through the local church. In Total Church, Steve Timmis and Tim Chester write, “Church is not another ball for me to juggle but that which defines who I am and gives Christlike shape to my life.” In the New Testament, God uses the church the most by the sheer volume of outlets it provides as the main tool of conformity to the image of Christ. You will never fully unleash the transformative, Spirit-empowered power of gospel growth in your life apart from a proper understanding and love of the local church.
Unity, Love, and Humility
The “one anothers” are the means for the church to be a mutual discipleship community. Everyone builds each other up in the context of community. Throughout the New Testament we see a common theme, the “one anothers.” Here is a compiled list with included biblical references:
Some address the unity of the church:
- Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50).
- Don’t grumble among one another (John 6:43).
- Accept one another (Rom. 15:7).
- Don’t bite, devour and consume one another—seriously, guys, don’t eat each other (Gal. 5:15).
- Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another (Gal. 5:26).
Some focus on the theme of love:
- Love one another (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 4:7, 11; 2 John 5).
- Through love, serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
- Tolerate one another in love (Eph. 4:2).
- Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Pet. 5:14).
- Be devoted to one another in love (Rom. 12:10).
Others stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers:
- Give preference to one another in honor (Rom. 12:10).
- Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Phil. 2:3).
- Serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
- Wash one another’s feet (John 13:14).
- Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind (Rom. 12:16).
Many others deal with a whole spectrum of attitudes, actions, and considerations toward one another:
- Do not judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Rom. 14:13).
- Bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
- Speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:25).
- Pray for one another (James 5:16).
All of the “one anothers” work as means for the Lord to bind us in unity, love, and humility. I would add that this is not a perfect division of the list because the verses overlap categories. These provide framework for discipleship and encouragement in the body.
These are commands to be pursued persistently. Every Christian in the local church mustn’t merely seek these from others, but be these for others. Too many times in the body, we find ourselves seeking to be on the receiving end of these but not on the giving end of them. We, as a community of the Holy Spirit, must give and receive.
The “one anothers” aren’t given to a special group of believers, but to all of the body to share in the context of the local church. With this in mind, we may begin to understand how vital the body of Christ is when you just read the list above.