How A Community Cares for One Another

 In Preaching & Teaching
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.(2 Corinthians 13:11-12) 

Sometimes when we visit or talk to one another on the phone, we share some of our most meaningful comments in the closing moments of the conversation. It might be when we’re in the driveway getting into the car or after someone has told us that they need to get off the phone. Yet these rushed and meaningful words sometimes are the ones that echo in our minds.

The closing verses of Paul’s final letter to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) letter reads like a great musical piece that has replaying the last few measures in our head. Although these words are no more or less inspired than the rest of Paul’s canonical writings, they were the final and perhaps most memorable words that he said to this congregation the gathered in Corinth. In these few verses, Paul describes how believers ought to relate with one another.

Rejoice with one another. I am convinced this is one of the commands that we ignore the most often. The Bible tells us repeatedly that we are to rejoice. We are to celebrate what God is doing in our lives and notice what God is doing in the lives of other people. Although there are times that mourning takes place, the default position and attitude of God’s people should be one of rejoicing With one another.  Laughter and joy should be our primary language and what we most often experience when we are with one another.

Restore (or attempt to) one another.  The message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a message of restoration. God restores broken relationships and broken people. There are times in life when we disappoint ourselves, one another, and God. However, when these unfortunate failings happen, the goal should be to bring about restoration. Restoration is often a long in difficult process. But because God is committed to restoring us, we should be a community that seeks to restore one another.  You will notice Paul does not demand restoration, but an attempt at restoration.  It takes at least two people for restoration to take place, this includes repentance on the part of offender, and forgiveness by the one offended.  However, it only takes one party to prevent restoration from taking place. Sometimes it is the unwillingness of the offender to ask for forgiveness.  Other times it is the unwillingness of the offended to grant it.  Restoration doesn’t happen unless both parties do their part to restore one another.

Comfort one another.  It seems in many families there are those that constantly need comforted and those that constantly do the comforting.  Yet Paul seems to indicate that there are times in life where we need to be the comforter.  There are other occasions when we need to be the one comforted.  There are occasions where we need to be both the comforter and the one comforted at the same time.  Paul tells this congregation earlier they are to comfort one another with the comfort that they have received from Christ. A healthy community is a place where everyone is both a caregiver and not too proud to be a care-receiver.

Agree with one another.  This probably doesn’t mean to hold all the same beliefs, but to be agreeable in nature.  In Greek this means “to think thus” or “to set one’s mind upon.”  It seems to me that he is not saying that we need to all think the same things in the same way. Rather we are to set our minds upon one another. We are to consider others and not just ourselves.  To do this effectively,  God’s people must not only think the right thoughts, but we must also graciously communicate with the right attitude.  As we interact with others, we are not only required to consider their arguments/apprehensions, but we are to consider their feelings as we respond to them.

Live in peace with one another.  Conflict and hostility should not be the culture of a Christian community. There are times were disagreements and disagreeable people arise. But a healthy Christian community become stronger when there are short seasons of conflict that are part of the maturation process of everyone involved.  Conflict does help us to establish boundaries and feel the pain than others have left unexpressed.  However, conflict is something that does not used to hurt others but to clarify values.  Healthy conflict does not bring chaos, but clarity.  We are able to live at peace with one another when we see times of conflict as something to strengthen,  rather than sabotage community.

Show affection for one another.  Paul says here that we are to greet one another with a “holy kiss.”  This is one of those examples where we extract the principal rather than a literal command. It seems to me that Paul is saying here that we’re to express intentional affection to one another.  Much of this is culturally-bound.  There are some cultures where a kiss is the normal greeting.  And those cultures, I believe Paul would say to do that in a “holy” way.  There are other cultures where a hug is a normal greeting. Likewise, I think Paul would encourage believers to hug in a “holy” way.  In other cultures, a handshake is the appropriate greeting.  Likewise in those cultures we should shake hands in a “holy” way.  We also want to find ways to demonstrate affection to people.  This may include giving someone a fist bump, high five, shouting someone’s name when they walk in the room, or perhaps a text or social media mention of encouragement.  People desperately are looking for others to show them appreciation and affection.

It has been said, that we don’t remember all the things that people say to us.  But we do remember how they made us feel. Let’s be a people who constantly make one another feel a sense of rejoicing, restoring, comforting, agreeable, peaceful, and affectionate.

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