Dr. Robert Vincent, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC
We huddled nervously, our eyes intent on the man before us, our bewildered faces searching his for guidance. The moment was big. Everything was at stake. A sea of thunderous noise, bright lights, and people surrounded us. An impossible task loomed. . . .
Buried in that tense childhood memory is an incalculable treasure. Our coach wisely chose in that moment not to point our attention to the crowd, or even to the momentous event of which we were a part. He pointed us to each other. “TEAM,” he emphasized, “you can do this, if you do it together. No individual can win this by himself, but you can win it with each other, and for each other.” Even in a Pee Wee League City Championship, the concept of teamwork can be powerful.
By God’s design, we need each other. When He created perfect humans in a perfect garden, He created them to need each other. And within the bond of the New Covenant, all of the members are designed by God to be interdependent. We belong to each other as family. We are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25). We are living stones constituting the same house (1 Peter 2:5), branches growing together from the same Branch (John 15:1-2, 5), brothers and sisters sharing one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6). We are graced by God’s Spirit with gifts on which others depend. He has created us new not only for fellowship with Himself, but for fellowship with each other. God intends to use us in each other’s lives for our mutual growth, and we worship Him when we let Him use us this way.
How mindful are we of this divine design? Do we comprehend it? value it? participate in it? plan for it? Two helpful questions rise at this point: 1) Are we being used by God to be a sharpening influence on others? 2) Do we seek to be sharpened by others?
Our college years are probably the season in life when we are most influenced by our peers. All of us have opportunity for spiritual influence on those near us (Proverbs 27:17). Is my influence sharpening or dulling? Do I choose my friendships with sacred influence in mind? Do I ever prepare to be an intentional sharpening influence on those nearest me? Do I pray for opportunities to serve others “in word and in tongue” and “in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)? Do I weigh my words to consider whether they are constructive and edifying? Do I seek to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? Do I ever meaningfully “agitate” my brothers and sisters in the Lord to good works and love (Hebrews 10:24)?
Of course, our influence is felt not only by what we choose to say and do, but in the things from which we opt out – choosing not to repay evil for evil or return a threat (1 Peter 2:23); to not be deceitful to others (Ephesians 4:25), critical of others (Philippians 2:3), to not be discontent with our circumstances or to complain about others (Philippians 2:14); or to say no to our willful flesh that wants to use our freedom in Christ selfishly (Galatians 5:16).
The apostle Paul teaches us that we are called to a freedom to serve each other in love (Galatians 5:13). Envision that . . . a freedom that voluntarily enters a new kind of slavery that selflessly serves my brothers and sisters in love. Spiritual fruit in my life enriching theirs.
The impossibility of loving even my Christian neighbor as myself reminds me of my need to walk by God’s Spirit. The Spirit walks, and my need is to walk by Him (Galatians 5:16), to keep in step with Him (Galatians 5:25), measuring my strides with His, moving in the same direction, content with His pace. If I ask, “What does walking by the Spirit look like in this specific situation?”, I can be grateful that God’s Spirit has breathed out a wealth of guidance in the Word, marking out sure steps on which to set my feet.
Good teams consist of good teammates. Good teammates use their influence to make those around them better. Brothers and sisters, will we help each other forward in our spiritual journey?
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.