As we wrap up 2016 and look ahead to the new year, I want to share four important thoughts with you.
1) One another. “One another” shows up over and over again in the Scriptures. It is often used in the context of how Christ followers are to live together. We were created for community. One of the greatest gifts God has given us is the people who sit around us every Sunday. Let’s make sure that we are loving and serving each other in a God honoring way.
2) The other. We need to love and serve those in our church community but we are also called to be Kingdom bringers to the whole world outside the walls of our church building. And that means we will have to build meaningful, authentic relationships with “the other” people even if they don’t believe what we believe, look like we look, vote like we vote, earn what we earn and so on.
3) Fellowship. Unfortunately we have reduced this word in scope and use it to mean the handshake time during the service or at best the coffee or potluck after church. Those are ok but fellowship is so much more. It is opening our homes and our lives to one another. Fellowship is spending good time together – laughing, crying, being honest, eating and praying. It is a way of life the church needs to recapture.
4) Hospitality. If fellowship is the word that describes how we do the “one another” stuff well, hospitality is the word that describes how we do “the other” part of life well. Again, food, time, open homes and open lives are what goes into this. And again, it is a way of life the church needs to recapture.
I know paying attention to one another and the other will not be simple. There will be a cost. And the practice of hospitality and fellowship will take time and we will have to juggle our schedules and surrender some of our preferences. But if we start taking this stuff seriously, I think God will do some pretty amazing things in and through us this year. And that is worth whatever it takes.
Director of Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada