“Best Summer Ever: Belong to One Another”

What will make this the best summer ever won’t be the destinations we go to or the pictures we take, but rather the people we do life with- those we impact and those that impact us. We know accountability is important for growth, but so few of us allow people close enough to help us.

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own or get together with your group, spiritual running partners, or family to talk through what you are learning.

Message Video:

Message Notes:

Ever benefit from a hard conversation?

When we moved to Los Angeles from Seattle, we were ready for a change. We had gone through a church plant with 4 senior pastors in 4 years, and I was one of them – a co-pastor and an elder at the church at age 24 which was way too soon.

All that to say, I was ready for a new start and had a lot of confidence as I had also graduated from seminary. I was eager to make my mark at our new church and asked one of the pastors how I could help. I assumed he would eagerly ask me to start a small group or teach a class.  Instead he asked me to serve in an area of great need.  I was excited to start helping in such a strategic ministry so I eagerly agreed.  That’s when he handed me an orange vest and asked me to meet him in the parking lot early the upcoming Sunday morning.

I have to admit, serving in the parking lot was not what I had in mind. This was way beneath me – so I thought! I never took a class in seminary on parking lot ministry. Rather than turning down this ministry opportunity, I decided to do the opposite of what I wanted to do.  After weeks in the parking lot, something inside of me began to change.  I actually enjoyed serving. I began to greet those in the parking lot I did not know and invite them to our small group. People I met began getting connected. Our small group began to grow incredibly quickly!  I realized I would rather be in the parking lot of a movement than preaching in a dying church.

Riding with Gerardo in his car one day, I was talking about his church to understand the strategy and discover the struggles and issues. I remember how Gerardo, gently reminded me that this was not his church but our church. He went on to say that I needed to stop trying to dissect something that is living. Instead of critiquing things, I needed to take responsibility to help bring solutions.

Gerardo had a way of putting me back in my place. Ever heard that someone is too big for their britches? Well Gerardo was great at helping people shrink down to the size of their britches.

We all need a Gerardo in our life!

Get yourself a Gerardo!
Be a Gerardo in the lives of others!

“How do we all struggle with this?”

Too many people lack self awareness or lack the caring people around them to help them become more self aware.

Remember when American Idol came out? It was super popular – especially in the first few weeks when people who should not have been singing were on national television singing!

Seriously though, lacking self-awareness is detrimental. Blind spots can trip you up and trip up others around you.

You’ll only ever live to your greatest potential to the level you are willing to be in  accountable relationships.

“What does God say about this?”

During this series, we are looking at some of the “one another” verses in the Bible.

What will make this the best summer ever won’t be the destinations we go or the pictures we take, but rather the people we do life with- those we impact and those that impact us. 

We are doing this series as we move towards The Church Has Left the Building on July 2nd. 

This is our opportunity to engage in the lives of neighbors or friends who are disconnected from God or church so we can be an encouragement and light in their lives.

“One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-LAY-loan). It’s used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give instructions to the church, and 60% of those instructions come from Paul.

Kissy-kissy? Yes! Four of the “one another” commands are about kissing. But with all due apologies to David Crowder and John Mark McMillan, these kisses are neither “sloppy, wet” nor “unforeseen.”

  • Love. One third of them instruct Christians to love one another. We talked about this last week.
  • Humility. About 15% stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers.
  • Unity. One third of the one-another commands deal with the unity of the church.

There’s a great infographic about all the one another verses at gatewaychurch.com/diggingdeeper.

Today we are taking some of the other “one anothers” and combining them into one category we are calling “Belong to One Another.”

We cannot grow up to become who God has created us to be unless we are in community. 

  • You cannot live out the “one anothers” without others. 
  • We have a responsibility to look out for others following Jesus, and they have a responsibility to look out for us. 
  • That’s why the Bible talks so much about how we are One Body and we each have a part to play.
  • We cannot be the Body by ourselves. We grow best with others.

These include some things you may naturally do along with some things you may naturally avoid.

Are you the kind of people who like the bad news or the good news first? 

Great! We will start with the bad news!

We are called to…

  • Rebuke one another.
  • Exhort one another.
  • Confess to one another. 


And this also means to be willing to be rebuked by another, be exhorted by  another, and be willing to hear people’s confessions.

And now for the good news. We are called to…

  • Restore one another and be restored.
  • Build Up one another and be built up.
  • Encourage one another and be encouraged.

So maybe what I consider bad news is something that is actually easy for you to do. I am really good at building up and encouraging, and I like being built up and encouraged.  I have a harder time rebuking and exhorting or being exhorted and rebuked. 

The early church in Acts 2, never stopped meeting and encouraging each other. There was real accountability.

Here’s a few verses that point out the transformation that comes through honest conversations:

  • “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” – Matthew 18:15 (NIV)
  • “Anyone who loves learning accepts correction, but a person who hates being corrected is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1 (NCV)
  • Or in the King James Version from 1611 – “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is stupid.”

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. – Ephesians 4:12-16

We belong to each other as we are all part of the Body of Christ – we bring Jesus’ presence into the world! 

That’s why it’s so important we grow and mature and become more like Jesus!

These verses emphasize the importance of speaking truth in love, addressing faults and sins gently, and being willing to engage in honest and constructive conversations to help one another grow in faith and character. They highlight the significance of sincere care and concern for others, even when it involves difficult discussions.

Several years ago, Deborah, the kids, and I went to our favorite yogurt place in Pasadena, CA called 21 Choices. It is a lot like Amy’s Ice Cream here in Austin. You choose your flavor and then ask them to mix in different toppings. I usually went with some sort of combination of chocolate ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter. They mix it up and then let you sample it before you pay to make sure they did it right. On this particular day, I wasn’t paying attention or was distracted by my kids who were about 2 and 5 at the time. I don’t know what happened exactly. I just remember the woman who worked there working on my order and then reaching over the counter with the spoon in her hand. Without hesitating or thinking I just leaned up on my tip toes and took a bite. Rather than grabbing the spoon, I let a stranger feed me! She turned beet red and my kids looked so ashamed. Deborah just started laughing!

What an absurd moment! Yet how often do we let other people feed us, when we are entirely capable of feeding ourselves?

It is cute to feed babies, but it becomes more annoying when they are toddlers. Once they are children, it becomes a non-issue, but it is tragic when an adult needs to have someone feed him.

We should want to become more like Jesus! We don’t have to stay where we are spiritually, emotionally, and relationally! We can grow!

Too often, we are satisfied with where we are in life, but I believe God wants more for you. No matter your age or how long you have walked with Jesus, God has something deeper for you! This requires being willing to grow!

Accountability is important for growth, but so few of us allow people close enough to help us. And let’s be honest – some people love hard conversations but don’t actually love people. Both are critical.

At Gateway, we are known for how “no perfect people are allowed” and how we say to all “come as you are.” And you know, you really are good at this! In a world where most people feel like Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, and overly political, you have created the space where people are absolutely welcome regardless of their background, their choices, their struggles, or their doubts.

The secret behind the legacy of Gateway is that many people have also discovered that you can come as you are, but you don’t have to stay as you are.

If you are willing to lean into your faith and lean into community, you can really grow here. 

You can start to become more and more like Jesus – the One who exemplified and personified unconditional love in a world of animosity, joy regardless of suffering, and peace regardless of circumstances.

Leaning into faith means seeking to grow in your relationship with God with time on your own reading the Bible, praying, and applying what God reveals to you. 

Leaning into community means connecting with a group. Our groups come in four categories  – groups in which you can Belong, Serve, Heal, and Grow.

And in those groups – whether it is a Sunday morning group serving on campus or a weekday community group in someone’s home or a Restore group on campus or a serving group in the city, in that group are people who are coming as they are but not wanting to stay as they are.

You see, we are designed to belong to one another.

A truly loving community is one that is inclusive and a place where people are willing to have honest but loving conversations.

Unfortunately this combination is way too rare.

I created a grid to show the 4 ways we interact with each other using a simple continuum along the y axis from “Don’t Belong” to “Belong” and along the x axis from “Don’t Care” to “Care.”

When we don’t belong and don’t care, we are indifferent, neglectful, and we create an environment of isolation where people are excluded.

When we are with people who don’t belong but we care for them we might have empathy, compassion, and even show them kindness. This could be when we post on social media or even give money to an organization but we don’t necessarily have relationships with those we are helping. But when we really care, we help them belong.

When people belong but don’t care, we complain, gossip, and judge others because they annoy us. Perhaps this may be how you’ve been treated by extended family members or people at work or your neighbors or maybe you’ve fallen into this trap and done this.

When we talk to other people about someone else, we rob the person the chance to grow and change.

What we might think is venting or processing may actually be gossip or slander.

But the top right of our grid is what happens in a healthy community. We love people enough to restore them, rebuke them, exhort them, and encourage them.

And we love God enough and want to become more like Jesus enough that we welcome being restored, rebuked, exhorted, and encouraged.

So now that we know why we should take care of each other, let’s look at how to do this.

Let’s start with the hardest and most difficult and perhaps most abused of them all.

Rebuke

When people in our life who love us and love Jesus tell us the truth when we are in the wrong, that is not judgment. That is love and accountability. The key is who does it and how they do it.

If my kid is tapdancing on Mopac and I tell them to stop before they hurt themselves, that’s not me judging them, that is me loving them so they don’t hurt themselves or hurt others.

The problem is Christians have barked moral rules at the world, instead of starting at home (the church) in LOVE. 

Some of you have experienced harsh and damaging things at the hands or from the words of people who claim to follow Jesus. And for that I’m so sorry. That was not what God wanted. 

But others have cried out church hurt when many times it was really loving accountability 

“They shamed me!”… “no, they asked you to stop sleeping around,” etc.

Sometimes what we think is persecution is actually just the consequences of bad decisions.

From gotquestions.org

“The Greek word most often translated “rebuke” in the New Testament means “to reprimand and convict by exposing a wrong.” There are times when all of us need to be rebuked, and there are times when a believer needs to rebuke another believer.

We normally think of a rebuke in a negative sense, but Proverbs 27:5–6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” 

Paul instructs Titus, as an overseer of the church, to “speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15), implying that all three activities are of equal importance. We know we should always encourage each other and speak the truth (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4:25), but how do we know when to rebuke another believer?

Scriptural rebuke begins in the heart. Before we confront anyone about anything, we should first examine our own motives. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let everything be done in love.” That includes rebuke. 

There is a right way and a wrong way to rebuke someone. Wrong rebuking stems from pride, anger, malice, jealousy, or another selfish attitude. The goal of an unscriptural rebuke is to injure, shame, or otherwise injure a Christian brother or sister. Often, hypocrisy is involved. Most of the Bible’s warnings against judging others pertain to those who condemn others for the very things they do themselves.”

A simple checklist can help individuals know when it may be necessary to rebuke a fellow believer who is headed towards disaster. We should never be hasty or rash in a rebuke. We should evaluate each situation carefully and prayerfully and ask ourselves a few questions (a more comprehensive list can be found at GatewayChurch.com/DiggingDeeper)

1. Do I have a relationship with this person that allows me to speak into his life? 

2. Is my motive that of restoration rather than condemnation?

3. Would I be willing to have someone rebuke me in the same way?

4. Is this offense truly a sin or simply an act of immaturity or preference? 

5. Am I acting in love?

Notice the heart behind this passage:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

When we are called to confront or rebuke a fellow believer, we must always do so in an attitude of humility, knowing that we too are prone to sin. We can follow Jesus’ golden words in this and every other situation: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)

Let me end with this on rebuke, this should not be your first or even your second or probably even your third move. 

You should be way more quick to encourage and build up, but there may be an occasion where God may be inviting you to have a hard conversation with someone you love and someone who knows you love them.

Exhort

Exhort means “to call out” or encourage

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Romans 15:5-6

We are called to build one another up, not tear each other down. 

We are not called to simply call people out but call them UP. 

Build people up with words of encouragement. 

Remind them who they are in Christ, and the beauty they bring to the world.

Confess 

Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. – James 5:15-16

Forgiveness comes from confessing your sins to God.

Healing can come from confessing your sins to each other.

“What should you do about this?”

What are the obstacles in your life that keep you from emotional and relational transparency?

All you need is one or two people that you get to know and you let get to know you. 

The easiest way to find those one or two people is to join a group. 

As you grow closer to those in your group, a person or two will emerge as the ones to invite to become your spiritual running partners – think of them like your own personal spiritual board of directors. 

They are helping you see your blind spots, and you are helping them see theirs. 

In the process, you will all become more like Jesus.

And our world needs alot more Jesus!

Find an accountability partner in:

  • Your spiritual walk (running partner or group)
  • Your finances
  • Your marriage and parenting (a couple that is somewhere you want to be)
  • Your addictions or pitfalls (Restore)
  • Physical life (gym or running partner)

You have to hand people the license to speak into your life, it won’t happen by accident. 

Be direct and be purposeful. 

Ask “can you mentor me in _______ area?” or “can we meet 1x a month to talk about _____?”

“How can we all live this out together?”

Can you imagine our city if all of us in this room left this place eager to grow to become more like Jesus?

What if we used this summer to BLESS others!

We can bring more of heaven to earth when we connect more deeply with the Creator of heaven and earth.

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