In part one of this article, we looked at what is one-anothering and the call God makes to every believer. Things have eased a little now with talks on resumption of places of worship gathering momentum. We pray that this will happen in a safe worship space as we keep praying for the pandemic to end.
Part 2 of this article lays down the other 4 ways we can practice one-anothering in this season. We have also added a bonus practical way to cap it all.
How should we go about one-anothering now that church buildings are locked?
- Cultivate a Prayerful Life and time
“Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer”
I’m sure you have heard or sang the above words from this common hymn. It is easier to read the Bible and “forget” to pray. It is easier to have a conversation with a friend or even do a Bible study about prayer and still not pray. It is even more easy to complain than to pray. These are the observations I (Maggie) have made about myself over time.
My inadequate interest in prayer is because of my prideful heart and the feeling of self-sufficiency. It shows us how we think we are in control.
When Daniel was in exile in Daniel 9:3, after he understood what Scriptures said, that Jerusalem will go into desolation for 70 years (crisis ahead), he “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes”. Despite the fact that God had made that verdict, Daniel still prayed that God would forgive them for their sins. Daniel understood the essence of prayer even in times of crisis.
Philippians 4:6-7, Paul finds it key to remind the church that the only way they will not to be anxious is by making all their requests known to God in prayer which is how they get to surrender and enjoy God’s peace.
Our Lord Jesus in Mark 14:35-36, when about to be crucified, went to seek His Father in prayer. The journey ahead of him was going to be hard and painful yet He, the Son of God with all the power and might he had, still went ahead to pray. God did not change the plan but gave him the strength to go through it.
When we pray God doesn’t just focus on giving us what we want but more than that He is concerned about changing our hearts and attitude towards him.
Praying is an avenue for us Christians to realize how weak and feeble we are in order to appreciate God’s power and strength hence making us humble before the Lord. So, even in this time of crisis, we ought to keep praying and be intentional about it in and after our conversations.
One of my accountability friends called some few weeks ago. We talked for almost an hour and it was really refreshing for me but I forgot to pray. We had shared our prayer items and before we hang up, she reminded me that we can still pray over the phone. I felt a bit embarrassed but I learnt a lot about her intentionality to pray because even with the prayer requests taken, it is easy to forget.
Like John Stott put it, “I doubt if anybody has ever become at all Christlike who has not been diligent in prayer”.[i]
- Love People genuinely and use things. I (Eve) struggle with thinking of the other person better than me. My observation is that I am by nature selfish and want things done for my gain. We generally use people and love things. Once they outlive their usefulness to us, we move on. And this is harder when it is peers.
And when wronged, how do we treat those who have wronged us. I imagine there will be a lot of stepping on each other’s toes during this period. Partly because we are closer with families and friends now that majority of us are staying at home.
We hold grudges and carry wounds for a lifetime. We place expectations on people to fit our unspoken motives. We take advantage of one another which results to resenting each other and hence strained relationships. We rarely think of ourselves being on the wrong side.
We forget that God in Christ forgave such like us. Unlovable, unusable and empty. If he loved such rebels and outcasts like us, why do we want to use others instead of showing them grace.
At the core of our faith is forgiveness and love and to be able to do this, we must think of the other person as better than ourselves and treat them as such. Not focusing too much on their sins but looking at our hearts and seeing our sinfulness. This is a good time to learn some patience with one another, settle matters and in all situations bear with one another in love.
- Bear one another’s Burdens. By now, we know some of the members of our churches have lost their jobs, are on unpaid leave or furlough. How can we practically live the Christian call to bear one another’s burdens? We ought to begin in the household of God.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26).
One of the greatest privileges of belonging to the body of Christ is that we don’t need to carry our burdens alone. We belong to a community that has been joined together in Christ Jesus. We have received one forgiveness from one Saviour into one body built together on the Chief Cornerstone into a Spiritual house.
In this crisis, we should be willing and intentional to bear the burdens of those who are going through hard times. We will even go further and suggest that in this area, we should aim to look out for those members of the church who are laid back and whom we know might be challenged in one way or another. They tend to be forgotten.
What are you planning to do in regard to looking out for one another?
- Group Reading Challenge. I (Eve) know we had started very well with forming book clubs and putting up meeting strategies and a number of books we will study. But I know, some of us if not all are lagging behind. The plans to continue meeting and keeping up to the momentum has faded. But all is not lost.
In this season of Covid 19 we can develop these habits of one anothering through reading together. You can decide to pick up a Bible book or a Christian literature, or a book on a topic that we have been interested in for some time. Set specific time in a week to read and discuss the things you are learning and are edifying to you. I have found this a very helpful approach this season.
Reading does not come naturally for many. We have to beat our mental hurdles to reading by reading. There are no two ways to it. Are you having questions on any aspect of our faith? One of the ways of dealing with this is to be deliberate and read others who have thought of the same questions.
And a bonus one…
- Keep your accountability friends and partners close. Give fellow and mature Christians authority in your life. These are people who know you better and are able to help despite the distance. It is easy to feel lonely especially for those staying alone or the not yet married. We have found speaking to friends whom we trust very refreshing at such a time. People who can ask the hard yet godly questions over the phone and check if we are putting these ideas into action. It is one thing to read them and another to be deliberate to implement and live them out.
Give some people authority in your life to call you out when that sin of prayerlessness is lingering. Let them know they can ask the hard questions and let us stir one another into Christian one-anothering in this season.
I (Maggie) have been encouraged by calls and visits. We have gone for walks and runs with friends. I have been blessed by married couples who visit the singles and fellowship with them (this is a rare thing yet so precious). And we write as single ladies, we would like to encourage married people to be more deliberate with single people. They can get easily neglected.
[i] Timothy Dudley-Smith. Authentic Christianity: From the Writings of John Stott Chosen and Introduced by Timothy Dudley-Smith. (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996) pg 226
Article by Margaret Achieng and Everlyne Wambui. Margaret and Everlyne work for iServe Africa as Human Resources Manager and Member-care Officer respectively. They are both passionate for people and member-care.