Six Ways to Grow Closer to Other Christians

Six Ways to Grow Closer to Other Christians

Many professing Christians will walk into church this Sunday, smile at a few people, shake a hand or two, talk about the weather a bit, listen to a sermon, sing a few songs, and walk away believing that they have just fulfilled what it means to live in Christian community. Is this all there is, or should we be looking for more? 

The Apostle Peter addressed the Christians of his day, and us, to go far beyond merely being in the same room as one another for one hour per week. He calls believers to be deeply involved in one another’s lives. 

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).

In this passage, Peter gives six back-to-back instructions that we all should be striving to possesses personally, and as a local church.

  1. Unity of mind: Sometimes translated, “harmony.” It has been said, that people can only live in harmony by themselves.
    Put any two people in a room for a long enough time, and very soon they will not be in harmony. For Christians, this should not be. We must always let our unity in Christ supersede our differences. The world is a hostile place full of people who are dividing, and fighting, over all kinds of issues. Believers are to strive to live in unity, peace, and harmony with one another. As Paul writes, “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” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
  2. Sympathy: To sympathize with another Christian is not to just be aware of other’s needs, but a deep desire that also results in taking action to help. As believers, we should make sure that no Christian is suffering alone.
    Look at the high level of sympathy which Paul exhorts the Corinthians to express, “but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
    If you are the one suffering, let others know about it. If people don’t know, then they cannot help. 
  3. Brotherly love: While we are to honor all people, there is extra special love that we are to have with those who are in the family of God. We are commanded by God to love one another. Other Christians need the love that only other Christians can provide, and loving others is a vital part of fulfilling your purpose in life. Brotherly love cannot, and should not be confined to a building referred to as a “church.” It is a love that should be active all week long.
  4. Tender-hearted: Be sensitive to the needs of others. This is the opposite of having a hard, calloused heart. There is a dire need among Christians to open our hearts and to be sensitive towards one another.
    Is your heart tender towards Christians in your local church? Do you seek to know them and understand their hurts, pains, trials, and sufferings? As a Christian living in community with other Christians, be on the lookout for those who are needing sympathy. Those who hurt the most often hide it the best.
  5. Humble mind: Humility is considering others more important than yourself. This is the polar opposite to the way the unsaved world thinks. They put themselves first; however, you are commanded to put others first.
    Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
  6. Do not repay evil for evil: Sadly, it appears that this command was given to those within the church. Is it possible for Christians to say bad things about a fellow Christian? Of course, and anyone reading this knows that such a thing can and does happen, but how are you to respond? Peter is very clear. We are not to repay them with evil. He had just instructed the believers to not repay non-believers with evil, and how much more forgiving, patient, and long-suffering should we be with our fellow Christians. 

Summary:

These exhortations by Peter are a punch in the gut to modern Christianity, and maybe even to you personally. Are you striving to live in Christian community with unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, a humble mind, and not returning evil for evil? 

If you have been thinking that attending church is the extent of your involvement with your fellow believers, repent and start incorporating Peter’s instructions immediately. 

Do you want to have a stronger, heathier, more intimate church? Well, it starts with you. 
~ Trey Talley

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