This post is link eight in a chain blog initiated by Alan Knox on the topic of “one another.”
The following article is by: Pieter Pretorius
Individualism and “one another”
Rm 12:10 (ESV) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (BBE – “putting others before yourselves in honour”).
It’s two such simple words “one another” but we are struggling to put it to practice. Even Rm 12:10 is difficult to translate into deeds. Through the Lord’s grace I want to bring something to the fore that is very difficult for us Westerners to really do, namely to recon ourselves dead to our individualistic lifestyles. When the Lord started pointing this out to me I struggled getting my mind around it. Everybody around us lives like this so we feel so at home living individualistically. I decide what I want to do with my life. As a good Christian I do it prayerfully and I am for the most part willing to follow the Spirit’s lead, but it is basically I who call the shots. Isn’t this the main reason why we have difficulty accommodating one another? Let me explain.
Through my contact with our local Indian (Asian) community I started seeing how selfless they are in comparison to us Westerners. The father lost his eldest son through an accident. When the youngest (only) son expressed his desire to become a pilot in the air force, his father forbade him to do it because it is too dangerous. The risk of losing his only remaining son is too great. His father wanted him to be a medical doctor. Dutifully, and in obedience he gave up his dream and became a doctor. It took me a while to overcome the inward rebellion I experienced. All of my individualism shouted against this unfair demand from the father.
Especially the lives of the Muslims are directed by the umma (community). The community forms and shapes the father’s decisions in directing his children’s lives. Thus in actual fact the umma has the final say in what an individual is planning. The result is that they do not even consider making individual plans.
In living out the “one another” directives of the Lord we need to focus on “putting others before yourselves in honour” in the (Christian) community. The most effective way to do that is to have a servant attitude. Our best example for this is our Lord. Jesus did not wait for a slave to turn up, but washed the feet of his disciples himself thereby setting the example for us to follow (Jn 13:14-15). But the real neat part is that it is not our own effort, because Jesus is living his life in us. When we keep our eyes on Him (in us) then we are able to recon ourselves dead to our individualism and to recon ourselves dead to self. We yield our self to him moment by moment.
The Lord knows how easily we loose focus therefore he encourages us: “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rm 12:11) by serving one another. “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight” (Rm 12:16). It sounds easy on paper, but it is a tall order to humble yourself and actually live this way. Boy, how I battle with Ga 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith [trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV). I can really appreciate the exhortation of Heb10:24 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Isn’t the greatest key to community life emptying ourselves of individualism, self and laying our lives down for one another?
- Chain Blog: One Another – Alan Knox
- Linking One Another – Swanny
- What Does It Mean to Love One Another? – Chuck McKnight
- The treasure of ‘One Another’ – Jim Puntney
- This is how the world shall recognise you… – Kathleen Ward
- Accepting one another in love – Chris Jefferies
- One Another: A meta-narrative for the church- Greg Gamble
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