Those who know me well understand that I am an introvert. This means I’m pretty good with quiet environments, working alone, taking long bike rides by myself, and not having to be the life of the party. I’m good with all of that. I’m OK in my own skin (so don’t feel sorry for me – it’s how I roll!)
However, I live a very public and people oriented life. The life of pastoral ministry includes leading groups of people – in worship, in study, in prayer, in group work, and in mission. So I’ve learned to function as an introvert in what many perceive to be an extrovert role. I’ve come to understand when I need to push myself beyond isolation to take part in the group. And I’ve come to appreciate our need to act together as the body of Christ and people of God.
The leadership style that I most enjoy working out of has always been a collaborative, acting together, style. Creativity abounds when we plan and act together. Ownership is spread out and participation increased exponentially when we act together. Together we are able to do more, share more, and care more for others.
In John 13:34-35, having just shared the Last Supper with his disciples, and as he is preparing them for his coming departure from their midst, Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you. Love one another as I have loved you.”
This is one of many “one another” texts in the New Testament that quote either Jesus, Paul or others in admonishing those who follow Christ to act together. Each of them is action oriented and each of them is other oriented. Take note of the actions: love, serve, help, pray for, forgive, submit, greet, meet, comfort, live in peace with, build trust with, be patient with, be accountable to (and on and on). . . one another.
As easy as it is for me (given my personality type) to go through life without noticing or responding to others, it’s not what Christ calls me or you to do. We are to take note of the other, engage the other, get to know the other, and be in relationship with the other. Who is the other, you might ask? I’m pretty sure Jesus’ definition of the “other” is all inclusive – any one who is made in the image of God (and that includes all of us) is the other.
Acting together as we keep Jesus new commandment is a response of stewardship (everything we do after we say “I believe” in Christ) in that it assumes a posture of generosity and openness. It thrives on an attitude that sees, celebrates and shares God’s abundance. And it rejects a mentality of scarcity, withdrawal and separation.
I’ll be talking more about this on Sunday, November 13th as we share the third in a series of messages called “Live Simply: Act Together” at First Baptist Church.