WE BELONG TO ONE ANOTHER
When it comes to ministering to each other perhaps the most basic and fundamental truth we have to remember is that we belong to one another. Even though this is a simple principle to understand, it is not easy to live out. The idea that we belong to one another runs contrary to everything we believe as Americans. It’s just wrong to say we belong to each other unless we are married! One of the truths we hold to be self-evident is that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. We hate the idea of people belonging to other people. In fact, we fought a big war over this issue about one hundred fifty years ago! In spite of our American principles, Paul says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” We have already come to terms with the unity and diversity in the church illustrated by the body metaphor. The part of the body concept we have not discussed is that all the parts of the body belong to each other!
This concept might take a little getting used to! Not only are we expected to use our gifts for the benefit of one another but we have a vested interest in seeing each one use his or her gifts! Our relationship to one another in the community has some similarities to the marriage relationship. Just as in marriage each partner belongs to the other, so in the body each member belongs to all the others! What happens in a marriage when one of the partners begins to ignore the other, or begins to seek his or her own goals while ignoring the partner’s goals, or begins to act alone without consulting or considering the other? The marriage suffers and eventually disintegrates! The same is true of the church! If one member begins to seek his own good while disregarding all the others, or if one begins to act autonomously the church will suffer and eventually blow apart!
It’s very important for us to remember daily that we belong to one another. There are a number of benefits that will come to us if we do this. The first is obvious; by working together in close relationship we will accomplish far more than we ever could working alone. There is great comfort in knowing we don’t have to go through hard times alone; that there are a number of others right there with us who belong to us and to whom we belong. There is strength in unity. If all of us pay attention to ministering to one another’s needs then we don’t have to worry about getting our own needs met. If I daily remind myself that I belong to the other members of the church, that it is not all about me, and that my actions affect everyone else, then God will use that to keep me away from sin. We belong to one another!