Over the past few weeks we’ve been asking the question; how can you be a church without a building?
I think this was one of the pressing questions of the early church.
They didn’t have buildings, and they didn’t have sacred places . . . but what they had was one another.
With the coming of God’s Spirit, no longer was God contained in a building, or a single location. God’s Spirit took his dwelling within his people. This was the church. You are the church.
That’s why the phrase, “one another” is used 59 times in the New Testament.
And this the granddaddy of them all is “Love one Another”
It is the one repeated more than any other because it is the one principle on which all the other “one another” principles depend.
You see, Love is the proof of our faith. It is the evidence of what we believe.
As we continue our series, One Another, we see that teaching people stuff is also part of what the church is about.
Let’s read our text together: Colossians 3:15-16
Jesus calls us to be a part of a community of other believers, he calls us to fellowship with one another, to worship with one another, to pray with one another, to serve with one another, and a big part of the reason for this is so that others in the body can teach us stuff.
And this isn't just plain, old, ordinary, everyday stuff. This is amazing stuff; stuff that can change your life, renew your mind, and refill your heart.
But when we read Colossians 3:16, our attention is immediately drawn toward the word, admonish. It’s not a word we use a lot. Admonish means to direct someone’s mind toward something that needs corrected. It contains the idea that something isn’t right and needs to be changed.
Honestly, a lot of us have a hard time with this. We don’t like to be corrected, and many of us don’t like correcting others, and those that do don’t usually do it the right way or for the right reasons.
So, this morning, we’re going to dive into this short passage and put it into context to help us understand this “one another” statement and what it means for a small faith community like ours.
A good starting point is to understand what admonish is not.
First, admonishment is not criticism. We aren't trying to put anyone in their place. We don't admonish to tear down or rip apart. Our purpose is always to build up. Sometimes people will talk about constructive criticism. That's an oxymoron; a contradiction in terms. A critical spirit is never constructive. A critical tone always tears down.
Secondly, to admonish is not gossip. This may come to you all as a shock but in all the one another passages in the New Testament, you will not find one that says talk about one another. In fact, the New Testament associates gossip with all manners of behavior that destroy the body such as anger, division, slander, arrogance, and disorder. Proverbs 16:28 says that “Gossip separates close friends”.
So, what does it mean to admonish?
To admonish is to confront. It is to go to someone and say this thing isn't right. This needs to change.
But it is to be done within the context of our love for one another. Remember, love one another is the principal in which all other one another principals depend on. We should never confront a brother or sister in Christ if we are not motivated by love for them.
To admonish is to be willing to roll up your own sleeves and help your brother or sister get it right. It's willing to get dirty in someone else's mess.
Admonishment is more than just saying, “Get your act together. Do the right thing.” It is to say, “How can I help? I love you so let me help shoulder the burden. I'll be here until you can make it.”
This one another principle provides important balance to the life of the Christian community.
So far, we have seen calls to love one another, to live in harmony with one another, to forgive one another. On their own, those statements may seem to suggest that we be willing to tolerate anything in the church, just to keep the peace.
But does loving and accepting one another mean we just turn a blind eye when a brother or sister in Christ does something wrong?
No, this one another principle shows that a part of loving each other, is also confronting each other when necessary.
It's hard to keep those two things in balance. It can be very easy in the name of love to become very tolerant of unbiblical teaching and ideas. It can be very easy in the name of acceptance to become lax in our moral standards, because we don't want to be judgmental.
On the other hand, the church can easily go too far the other way. In the name of morality and righteousness we can burden people with all sorts of unbiblical, legalistic rules. In the name of truth, we can be very judgmental of those with differing opinions and personal convictions.
We need to learn to keep these things in proper balance. That’s why we’re told in Ephesians to speak the truth in love. That’s what it is to teach and admonish one another – to speak truth in love.
But here’s the part we sometime miss . . . whose responsibility is it? Ours. We are all to teach and admonish one another. This isn’t just my job. It’s not just the job of the elders, or bible study leaders. We are all called to teach and admonish one another.
How do we do that? Our text gives us a few hints.
The first key is the prerequisite of peace. Before you ever confront someone to admonish them, there is something that must be in place, and that is peace. Don’t believe me?
Try teaching or admonishing someone with whom you have a hostile relationship and see how far you get with that. You can only admonish someone in the context of a peaceful, loving fellowship.
Look at verse 15 and what it says we should do, before we teach and admonish, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
Admonishment only works when there is a loving, peaceful relationship. The only people I do a good job taking correction from, are those that I know love and care for me deeply. Even then, it can be difficult.
Admonishment needs to come out of an atmosphere of peace and fellowship. It’s not a way of winning an argument, of being proven right, or putting someone in their place.
So, before you ever admonish someone ask yourself, “Do I have fellowship with this person? Do I have a loving relationship with them? Have I let the peace of Christ rule in my heart with them?
If you can't answer those questions with a certain “yes,” then chances are your desire to admonish is coming from the wrong motive, and it won't be constructive.
Instead of confronting your brother or sister, you have some other things to work on first. To teach and admonish in love you must have the prerequisite of peace.
The second key is the priority of the Word. Look what verse 16 says we must do to teach and admonish one another, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
Admonishing isn't about advancing our own agenda or forcing our own opinion on matters. It must come from the objective standard of God's word. Without God's word our admonishment quickly becomes very subjective and judgmental.
It's not about what I think, what I feel, what I want. It's about what God wants and what God says. That's the only standard.
That's how we know when we just accept the other person or confront them. If it's an opinion, an individual preference, something that isn't directly taught in Scripture, then we must allow freedom, and accept one another in love.
But if it's a clear violation of God's word. If it's a false doctrine or a sinful behavior, then the proper response is to teach and admonish in love.
The third key to teaching and admonishing in love might come as a bit of a surprise. One of the main ways that any of us, that all of us can play a role in teaching and admonishing one another is to, “sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
We don't usually associate music and singing with teaching, but Paul says that our corporate worship has an incredible impact on the fellowship of believers.
Normally, when we sing in church, we see all our singing as being directed toward God.
God certainly is the primary audience when we sing, but he is not the only audience. We also sing for one another. By singing you are helping on another. You don't have to teach a class, offer a meditation, or preach a sermon to speak the truth to others. All you have to do is sing.
Paul says in Ephesians 5:19, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”
We should not underestimate the power of corporate worship to motivate, encourage and inspire people to godliness. This is one of the reasons we are intentional about the content of the songs we sing at Logos Dei.
Music has the power to touch us deeply. Those of you that come with passion aren’t just praising God, you are lifting up one another and you are a blessing to those around you.
There are people here each week that spiritually, emotionally, mentally need to hear full throated, full hearted praise and worship of God. When you sing with all your heart you are making yourself a vehicle for God to use to touch other people’s lives. Let God work through you.
We need each other. I need you. You need me. We need one another. We can’t be all that God wants us to be without one another.
We can be together what we never could be apart.
Eccl. 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Thousands of years ago, Cain asked God, “Am I my brother's keeper.” Throughout the New Testament, the one another passages answer with a resounding “yes.”