Know Your Bible

VOL. 15                                                                                               August 13, 2017                                                                                                              NO. 22



Greetings and salutations were a standard part of Christianity in the first-century church.  It is still seen centuries later as an avenue of good will - a universal way of showing friendliness or expressing best wishes.

"Hello" or "How are you" are common greetings today that open up conversations; that provide opportunities to question people, express feelings, develop acquaintances, or find out needs; that let people know we are interested in them.  Among brethren the ultimate goal is to create a bond of affection among all - from the richest to the poorest, the youngest to the oldest, males to the females, and the noblest to the commonest.

All of this brings me to the point of this writing.  Brethren, "get out of your circle!" It is so easy before and immediately after services to drift or slide into comfortable relationships and spend all our time visiting and bonding with people we already know, appreciate, and love dearly.  It is a prevalent practice every-where I've had opportunity to visit.

I see, for example, the same old groups visiting together at every service.  I see the young folks congregate at the same location in the auditorium; I see older couples standing around together as though they had an appointed place; and I see certain families at their same spots week after week.

Now you understand, of course, that nothing is wrong with this.  We all need those close, intimate friends with whom we can relax, laugh, and exchange pleasantries. But, my point here is that we have plenty of time to do this after lesser known brethren are gone.  Get around to brethren who are less involved, who will be gone within a few minutes, who do not feel a connection, who are gone so soon because they feel no bond among us.

Now I also understand that with some this is not possible.  Many are gone before you could possibly get around to them.  But there are still a good many brethren who are there but have no strong sense of belonging.  Make it your goal to get around to as many as you can in the short time they are there.  When you have done that, then return to your "circles." The greater number of brethren who can make less involved brethren feel welcome, feel attachment to the body, feel a sense of belonging, feel a bond of love - the greater becomes our oneness and their encouragement to serve the Lord faithfully.

Greeting one another is a great work and an important act of usefulness.  Show yourself friendly!

—L.A. Stauffer

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Many people in local churches know little or nothing about one another. They don't know each other's physical state, spiritual condition, or convictions about spiritual things. Too many have walled themselves in and their brethren out, a situation common to our times. Sixty years ago, people would go to neighbor's house and visit for several hours. They talked about the weather, politics, how each was getting along, and religious matters. The knew whether their neighbors went to church services, where they went if they were "church - goers", and what they believed about all sorts of Bible matters. They didn't always visit all of their brethren; however, they had much more than a passing acquaintance with a number of them. They were not afraid to talk to each other about spiritual things. 

We need a return to openness of questioning and dialogue  These things are necessary to our becoming truly acquainted with one another. Surely this is Biblical behavior. Paul informed his readers about faithful saints and their work, and about unfaithful ones who had given up their sanctification (Rom. 16; 2 Tim. 2:17,18; 4:14). He wanted the brethren to know how he was faring, and he wanted to know how the brethren in various places were faring (Eph. 6:21,22; Phil. 1: 27). He sent Tychicus to Colosse to inform them of all the news about him, and that Tychicus might learn of their circumstances and comfort them (Col. 4:6-8). Paul exhorted the saints to know their elders (1 Thess. 5:12). This meant more than just knowing their names; for they were told to esteem the elders highly in love for their work's sake (vs. 13). It was for the safety of the saints that Paul wanted to know how they were faring, and also that his own mind might be set at ease by the assurance of their faithfulness (1 Thess. 2: 17 - 3:10). 

Do we know who needs comfort, who needs companionship, who is drifting away from stedfastness, who is sick, even who is absent from worship at times of assembling? How can we fulfill our duty to our one another without knowing these things? How can elders do their work without knowing these things? How can we "warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, and be patient with all" if we are oblivious to each other's condition (1 Thess. 5:14,15)? How can we profit from the good examples of saints in other places if we are not told about their work? 

Remember what Paul told the Corinthians about the Macedonians and why he had done so (2 Cor. 8:1-7,24; 9:1-5). Do we 

know those who teach us as Timothy knew Paul and could, therefore, be assured in faith concerning the things he had been taught (2 Tim. 3:14,15)? Do we know each other as John knew the elect lady and Gaius and rejoiced in their devotion to God and in the fruits of their labors (2 Jn. 1-8; 3 Jn. 1-8)? How well do we know each other.

—Gilbert Alexander

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