Register today for VBS 2022!

Living Out the One Anothers

By Steve Gregg

This past week I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in an assisted living facility. Admittedly, that’s a strange place for a vacation, and it was interesting to say the least. Pastor Mike and I had just concluded a trip to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and, instead of flying home, I decided to drive to Central Indiana to see my 91-year-old mother for the first time since she had moved into an assisted living facility over the summer.  

As I made my plans, my brother informed me that the facility had a guest room available for family visits and suggested I see about reserving it. I’d never heard of this, but a phone call verified that they did indeed have a guest room set aside and I was welcome to use it. As I was thinking it through, they said the magic words, “there’s no charge.”  Sold!  

When I was a short distance away, I called again to make sure the room was still available and was told, “It’s all ready, the key is on the dresser, make yourself at home.” I texted Kim the room number and told her where to start looking for me if I suddenly disappeared. (Clearly I have seen too many movies.) Fortunately the room turned out to be very pleasant, and conveniently located just a floor above my mom’s room.

Spending the better part of two days there was eye opening: Waking up in the morning, joining my mom and other seniors in the dining room, and watching the rhythm of the day at the facility gave me new insight into their daily  lives. It was great to see so many of the staff graciously care for and interact with the residents. It was also sobering to see so many at the end of their life, facing serious health struggling with the simplest daily tasks. I was reminded that Scripture over and over tells of God’s love for the most vulnerable among us; this was a vivid example of such a group.

One of the most encouraging parts of my time there was seeing my mother and her friends’ compassion and service for each other. I learned that my mother eats her meals with the same group of women almost every day. About half of them have mobility issues and the others, including my mother, have increasing memory loss. The ones with the clearer minds proudly told me that they are there to remind their friends of the things they often forget. The forgetful ones help the others by being their hands and feet when they need something. It was sweet to see their laughter and gracious teasing about their challenges. It was comforting to see that my mother had a community that cared about her. As my mother thanked me for the visit, I let her know I would be back in a couple months to do it again, her friend Jean leaned in and told me she would remember and would remind my mom when she forgot. I was grateful these women had chosen to be there for each other.  I say it’s a choice because during my time there I learned of other residents who have decided to not leave their rooms or to interact with others. It made me very grateful for my mother’s example. I know that this is a difficult time for her, and I know that she has much to be down about. But I also know that she has chosen to love and serve others, even in the midst of those trials.

During the sermon this past week, Pastor Mike mentioned the One Another passages we see in the New Testament. They make it very clear  that folks in the church are intended to live with each other, not unlike this group of women who have made the choice to live, loving and serving each other with words and deeds.The older I get, the more I’m finding it helpful to see commands like these not as something I have to do but as another form of spiritual discipline. When we seek to be faithful in these things, over time they spiritually shape and form us. And unfortunately, when we ignore them, we are missing out on a key path to grow in Christlikeness. Watching over time as my mother’s mental clarity fades, I am also watching her “spiritual” muscle memory play out. Her life of quietly but faithfully serving others is still coming out of her even though mentally she is fading and as this happens, she continues to be a sweet blessing to those around her. The numerous calls in Scripture for us  to live as a gracious, interconnected self sacrificing community is not only a powerful witness out to the world, but a deeply transformative and life giving practice that forms Jesus in us at the some of the  deepest levels of our souls. I am grateful that even now, my mom continues to teach me and to set an example for which I will always be grateful.

In case you aren’t familiar with the “one another” passages, here is a list of some of them:
  • Love one another: John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Romans 12:10; 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 3:22; 4:8; 23; 4:7, 11-12; 2 John 1: 5
  • Serve one another: Galatians 5:13;
  • Hold each other in high esteem: Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 5:5
  • Show hospitality to one another (without grumbling): 1 Peter 4:9
  • Accept one another: Romans 15:7,
  • Instruct each other: Romans 15:14
  • Build up one another: Romans 14:19
  • Exhort one another: Hebrews 3:13; 10:24; Colossians 3:16
  • Encourage one another: 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • Bear one another’s burdens: Galatians 6:2
  • Forgive one another: Colossians 3:13
  • Be kind to one another: Ephesians 4:32
  • Lay down our lives for one another: 1 John 3:16
  • Live openly and honestly with one another: 1 John 1:7
  • Affectionately show honor to one another: Romans 12:10
  • Be gently patient with one another: Ephesians 4:2
  • Care about the interests of one another: Philippians 2:4
  • Be accountable to one another: Ephesians 5:21
  • Confess to one another: James 5:16
  • Live in harmony with one another: Romans 12:16; 15:5
  • Do not pass judgment to one another: Romans 14:13
  • Do not slander one another: James 4:11
  • Greet one another: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds:  Hebrews 10:24
  • Meet with one another: Hebrews 10:25
  • Agree with one another: Be concerned for one another: Hebrews 10:24
  • Live in peace with one another: 1 Thessalonians 5:13
  • Do not attack each another: Galatians 5:14-15
  • Do not provoke each another: Galatians 5:26
  • Do not lie to one another: Colossians 3:9
  • Do not grumble against each another: James 5:9
  • Be at peace with one another: Romans 12:18
  • Sing to one another: Ephesians 5:19