Doing Life Together
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited [Romans 12:9–16 — NIV]
“Good learning partners… are always balancing opposing goals: They are challenging and supporting us, and they are both pushing us to be autonomous, while also pushing us to connect with others in meaningful ways.
See the dilemma here? If good company has any ounce of self-importance, any whisper of dominance, anything and everything we are trying to accomplish on our journey to discover who God has created us to be is immediately negated. The point after all is not for us to learn to listen to another wise voice outside ourselves. The entire heart and soul and center of finding our place in this world if for us to learn how to know ourselves in the midst of all these voices, and build an internal foundation upon which we can build the rest of our lives.
So, good company is built on the principle of humility. A good learning partner recognizes his or her place in our journey, not in front of us, or even beside us, but behind us, spurring us on when we want to give up, but catching us when we start to fall.” [Christin Taylor, Crew: Finding Community When Your Dreams Crash (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2014), 34]
Doing life together is a common phrase these days, but the concept is not new. It was the culture of the first century Church. A phrase that is frequently used in the New Testament is “one another.” In Romans 12, Paul tells the believers to “be devoted to one another” and to “honor one another above yourselves.” He tells them to share and to practice hospitality. They were to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” And, lest they begin to only associate with a certain group of people — probably those most like themselves — Paul told them to “be willing to associate with people of low position.” The bottom line was that they were to do life together.
While Paul seemed to indicate a great interdependence among believers, a lot of people today tend to emphasize the need for independence. There is a great need to prove that one can make it on their own — even while also acknowledging the need of encouragement and support.
Enter the Church — or, at least the Church we are called to be. While Paul’s epistles were written 2,000 years ago, the underlying principles still apply. This is especially true as to how community is to function within the Body of Christ. We are to be there for one another and support one another, even while we may be on a journey of self-discovery.
Christin Taylor speaks of how we can be “learning partners” on this journey of life. She emphasizes that, while we are there for one another, we will give one another enough space to discover who we are with all of our warts and wonders. And she makes a good point when she describes how “learning partners” will often walk humbly behind us where they can offer the often-needed nudge or catch us when we begin to fall. Doing life together in this way is both in line with the biblical examples of community as well as the preferred way of living among today’s younger generations.
Who do you “do life” with today? Who are you “walking behind” to offer encouragement as well as help when they begin to fall? Who is there for you? Pour yourself into Christian community where you sense the presence of God and the support of fellow believers. You will find the journey much more enjoyable and doable.