As believers in Christ, we have become members of one another as we share in Christ. We are all together members of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). We have all been grafted into Christ (John 15:1-11). As we share in Christ’s body, we are all connected to one another through the Holy Spirit, and as members we are called to care for one another. While we feel fairly comfortable in providing for some material needs, even emotional needs, our primary responsibility to one another is to provide spiritual care for one another.
There are very few of us who would deny this as a true responsibility. But oftentimes the way we live our lives reflects the belief that the job of spiritual care is left to the pastors, elders, bible study leaders, or any other teaching type of role within the church. We reflect this underlying belief by neglecting to bring the word to bear in each other’s lives.
"...oftentimes the way we live our lives reflects the belief that the job of spiritual care is left to the pastors, elders, bible study leaders..."
Pastors and other leaders in the church are specially equipped by God for spiritual care. It is also something that they love to do. They know that God’s word has the power to save and sanctify, and they love with all their heart the calling to which they have been called. At the same time, pastors and elders and other leaders desire that this kind of ministry would be taken up by every member of the church.
In Numbers 11, Moses felt the weight of solo ministry. He was ready to die rather than face his own weakness in leading the whole nation by himself. God graciously responded by giving a portion of the Spirit to 70 of the elders of Israel, and they prophesied. Joshua, still a young man and servant to Moses, saw some men who had not gathered at the tent to receive the Spirit prophesying in the camp, and he wanted Moses to stop them. But Moses replied, “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29).
"All of us who are in Christ have had the Spirit of the Lord poured out on us, and he lives in us. As equal participants and inheritors of the promises of God, we are all called to be doing the work of building up one another to maturity in Christ."
Moses’ desire is fulfilled with the inauguration of the New Covenant. All of us who are in Christ have had the Spirit of the Lord poured out on us, and he lives in us. As equal participants and inheritors of the promises of God, we are all called to be doing the work of building up one another to maturity in Christ. We are called to speak the truth in love to one another so that we will grow up in love, both in love for Christ and love for one another (Ephesians 4:15). We are called to proclaim Christ to one another, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28). This is the essence of our role to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ. As we learn from Christ, as we grow in him, he changes us and empowers us to serve one another in this way. In order to carry this out, we need to have the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16) by practicing our own study of God’s word.
This isn’t just a responsibility, it is a privilege! Speaking the word to one another will only become natural and enjoyable as we change the culture of our own hearts to one that rejoices in God and his salvation. Coming to one another for the purpose of serving one another in this way brings great joy as we find ourselves enjoying communion with God and with one another. John wrote this as the reason for his proclamation of Christ: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:3-4)
This is the source of our joy, and as we pursue this kind of fellowship both with each other and with God, we will grow in our joy.