This blog will depart from my usual gentle, winsome tone. I’ve avoided using my posts as a bully pulpit, but I can no longer forbear. It’s time for a stern rebuke regarding our spiritual condition. Earth’s probation will soon screech to a halt when Jesus comes with his glorious retinue of angels, and I must testify that we are not ready.
In particular, one standard has been ignored, neglected, even despised among us. God will soon hold our shady lives up to that standard, revealing the leprous darkness of our souls the way a laser moving through flesh stops at the dark mass of a tumor. We’re in trouble, friends. We have corporate cancer.
Jesus said it explicitly three times, Paul said it twice, Peter said it once and John said it six times. Countless addition times, all Bible writers say it implicitly. Jesus and Paul put it forth as a summary of all Law, revealing its over-arching, all-encompassing nature. In His great signs-of-the-end sermon in Matthew 24, Jesus said many of God’s people would engage in the direct opposite of this command when they “deliver up one another and betray one another,” (vs. 10).
The standard, as you may have guessed, is “love one another,” (John 13:34, 15:12 and 17, Romans 13:8, 1 Thess 4:9, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11 and 23, 4:7, 11, and 12, 2 John 1:5). In Greek it’s agapeo allelon. The sheer number of variations of this “love one another” command reveals its quintessence to spiritual life.
We talk often about agape, but not as much about allelon. Yet the New Testament uses the latter almost as much as the former! “One another,” allelon, helps us better understand agape, because agape can’t be experienced apart from allelon. Countless expansions of the “love one another” command pepper the New Testament letters. Among other things, we should prefer, edify, admonish, receive, greet, care for, esteem, forbear and kiss one another (ask me for an exhaustive list).
Cold formalists, arrogant legalists, unprincipled compromisers and bold-faced pagans alike fail to measure up to this standard. Since we already fall short, let’s fall all the way down on our faces before God today, admitting that we don’t love one another as Jesus has loved us.
Who’s allelon? God is allelon. God is all about “one another.” And God will live in us if we receive Him.