“ONE ANOTHERING” and Union With Christ
Are you “in” or are you “out?” This is an unpleasant question to consider from some perspectives, because it is no fun to be “out;” to be excluded. Yet the reality is that all of us have to address the issues of inclusion and exclusion to some extent or another. We face it in athletics, “Are you on the team or off the team?” “Did you make the team, or were you cut?” “Are you are member of the club or not? Did you get invited, or were you overlooked?” The experience of being excluded can be very painful! And people can be very mean! There was a recent movies entitled, Mean Girls, and Taylor Swift had a popular song in which there is stated, “All You’ll Ever Be Is Mean.” And of course, as painful as it is to be excluded, it is an equally moving experience, if not more profound, and positive experience to be included! To be accepted! To be invited!
What does it mean when the Bible tells us that we are supposed to “one another” one another: love one another, exhort one another, pray for one another, etc. The exhortation to “one another” one another occurs over and over again throughout the New Testament, and in particular I have identified at least 19 activities of “one-anothering,” in which we are to engage as Christians! However, before we think about what it means to “one-another” one another, we need to back up and think about some preliminary, some first things. Some things that must be in place before you can “one-another” one another.
Before you can “one-another” one another you must be connected to one another, and before you can be connected to one another you must be connected to Jesus! This is partly what I think it means when the Bible says that we are to be “baptized into Jesus…”
Listen to how the Apostle Paul speaks of baptism in Romans 6:3-5 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…”
Paul says that believers have been baptized into Jesus, united with Jesus! Now what kind of baptism can unite you to Jesus! There are two kinds of baptism in the Bible: water baptism and Spirit baptism. John the Baptist in anticipation of baptizing Jesus made this statement in Matthew 3:11 “AS for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” There is water baptism and there is Holy Spirit baptism. One baptism is outward, visible, external, formal, a symbol signifying something inward, invisible, internal, and true, a power that works on the heart of man. One is symbolic and the other is the reality that is symbolized. Water baptism is the outward symbol of the real and true baptism of God’s Spirit!
What kind of baptism is being spoken of in Romans 6? When Jesus says that we are baptized into Jesus, what kind of baptism can unite you to Jesus,, water baptism or Spirit baptism? When did Jesus first baptize people with the Holy Spirit? In the Book of Acts we find numerous episodes of Spirit baptism. [See: Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4; 2:14-17; 2:32-33] It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that unites you to Jesus. It is when Jesus pours out His Holy Spirit upon you that you are united to Jesus, you are baptized into Jesus, not by water, but by the work of the Holy Spirit!
Why do we need the work of the Holy Spirit? 1) Because apart from the work of the Holy Spirit we are dead spiritually! [See: Ephesians 2:1-5 and Romans 6:23] Sin kills you spiritually! 2) Because Jesus said that we must be born again or we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God! If you are not born again by the work of God’s Spirit you cannot enter into God’s Kingdom, you are excluded, and shut out in spiritual death! [See: John 3:3,5] But when Jesus sends His Spirit, when He pours out His Spirit upon you, when He baptizes you with His life giving Spirit, He unites you to Jesus who is the “Way, the Truth, and the LIFE…” In John 6:63-64 Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe…”
So what does this have to do with “one-anothering?” Well you cannot “one-another” one another, if you are have no spiritual life in you; and you have no spiritual life in you unless you are united to Jesus, and you cannot be united to Jesus unless you have been baptized into Jesus by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! It is when you are united to Jesus that you have spiritual power to “one-another” one another!
It is when you are united to Jesus that you brought inside the body of Christ, that you are included in the body of Christ, so that you have someone with whom you can “one-another.” If you are not a Christian, if you have not been made alive by God’s Spirit, if you have not put your faith in Jesus, if you have not been united to Jesus, then you are still outside, and thus you do not have anyone with whom you can engage in the spiritual practice of “one-anothering.”
Thus “one-anothering” begins with union with Jesus. When you are united to Jesus, you become a part of His body, and when you become a part of His body you are not only connected to Jesus but you are also connected to one another, so that you can begin to practice “one-anothering” one another. In Romans 12:4-5 the Apostle Paul makes this point: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
In John 10:1-10 Jesus tells us that He is the door into the sheepfold. If you are outside the sheepfold you don’t have anyone to “one-another.” We enter into the sheepfold by faith in Jesus and then once we are inside the sheepfold what do we find? A flock of sheep, all gathered under the care of the Good Shepherd! So this is where “one-anothering” begins! It begins with a relationship with Jesus. It begins with union with Jesus; a spiritual union, so that you become a member of His body.