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The Praxis of Togetherness

In his seminal book, Jesus and Community, Gerhard Lohfink offers a list of passages from the New Testament Epistles centering on the statements and commandments regarding “one another” (allelon). The sheer volume of such admonitions (paraklesis) is quite striking in considering the ecclesiology of the New Testament. Lohfink appropriately dubbs this theme “the praxis of togetherness” and rightly underscores the centrality that “one-to-anotherness” has in the New Testament. I have expanded Lohfink’s list considerably for consideration:

  • “be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50)
  • “you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14)
  • “love one another… Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “love for one another” (John 13:35)
  • “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)
  • “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another” (John 15:17)
  • “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10)
  • “live in harmony with one another” (Rom 12:16)
  • “love one another” (Rom 13:8)
  • “no longer pass judgment on one another” (Rom 14:13)
  • “welcome one another” ((Rom 15:7)
  • “admonish one another” (Rom 15:14)
  • “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:16)
  • “wait for one another” (1 Cor 11:33)
  • “have the same care for one another” (1 Cor 12:25)
  • “agree with one another” (2 Cor 13:11)
  • “through love become slaves to one another” (Gal 5:13)
  • “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2)
  • “bear with one another lovingly” (Eph 4:2)
  • “be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph 4:32)
  • “be subject to one another” (Eph 5:21)
  • “bear with one another…forgive one another” (Col 3:13)
  • “abound in love for one another” (1 Thess 3:12)
  • “you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess 4:9)
  • “encourage one another” (1 Thess 4:18)
  • “comfort one another…build one another up” (1 Thess 5:11)
  • “be at peace with one another…do good to one another” (1 Thess 5:13)
  • “do good to one another” (1 Thess 5:15)
  • “exhort one another every day” (Heb 3:13)
  • “provoke one another to love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24)
  • “not neglecting to meet together…but encouraging one another” (Heb 10:25)
  • “confess your sins to one another…pray for one another” (Jas 5:16)
  • “love one another from the heart” (1 Pet 1:22)
  • “have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another” (1 Pet 3:8)
  • “be hospitable to one another without complaining” (1 Pet 4:9)
  • “serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1 Pet 4:10)
  • “meet one another with humility” (1 Pet 5:5)
  • “greet one another with a kiss of love” (1 Pet 5:14)
  • “have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7)
  • “this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11)
  • “we know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another” (1 John 3:14)
  • “we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16)
  • “love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23)
  • “let us love one another, because love is from God” (1 John 4:7)
  • “we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11)
  • “if we love one another, God lives in us” (1 John 4:12)
  • “let us love one another” (2 John 5)

To my mind, these admonitions makes some very specific assumptions about the depth, intimacy, and centrality of mutuality in the life of the church. The question for us seems to be, what kind of church life must we have for these commands to possibly be followed? How do we live this together? What kind of rearrangment of our lives must be made for us to even be able to intelligibly hear, let alone respond appropriately to these biblical admonitions? What does a life truly shaped by the praxis of togetherness look like in our own context?

3 Comments

  1. Ben Sternke wrote:

    I think you’ve nailed the problem on the head in your questions at the end. The answer has to come in the practical realities of how we structure our everyday lives, because the structures of consumer culture push us into ways of life that mitigate against most of these commands ever needing to be followed, and the statements from ever becoming more than nice religious ideas.

    For example, Vincent Miller has pointed out that the single family home has caused an atrophy of the “psychological ability” to live with one another. Basically the ubiquity of the single family home has cost us the ability to just get along with each other.

    It does make me wonder if some kind of intentional community is almost required if we’re going to move toward the ekklesia the New Testament seems to talk about.

    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  2. bruce hamill wrote:

    Yeah Ben and Halden. Structures won’t save but they seem to sure undermine the ‘foretastes of the kingdom’. Is anything new possible on this issue as consumerism collapses in on itself? The problem with preaching these texts in our context is that you seem stuck between the charybdis of ‘nice religious ideas’ and the scylla of impossibly ‘unrealistic’ pipe dreams. I run with impossible possibilities but I would like to imagine some more concrete steps. It helps me believe in the resurrection

    Friday, February 27, 2009 at 1:54 am | Permalink
  3. jim o wrote:

    What part of “Love your neighbor as yourself” don’t these people understand??????

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

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