We Really Do Need Each Other!
Romans 1:11 For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
The Apostle Paul is expressing his desire to visit Rome. His visit and purpose is very intentional. He is not simply planning a vacation to Rome to see the great sights, nor is it even just to have fellowship with fellow believers. If Paul is going to come to Rome, then there is a spiritual purpose in mind. This includes bringing a spiritual gift to strengthen the believers, but this is also seen in mutual encouragement. Paul doesn’t just come to bless the folks in Rome, but he recognizes his own need for spiritual encouragement which he will receive from them.
Paul needed the Romans as much as they needed him. He never places himself in a position of superiority, but humbles himself to become the learner, placing himself on equal position with the believers in Rome. Paul the teacher, becomes Paul the student in the presence of those who have come to know Christ. It becomes a setting of mutual edification as Paul points out that we really do need each other.
The book, “We Really Do Need Each Other” was written in the 1970’s by Reuben Welch. The idea actually seemed rather bold in a church where I had heard so much about my “personal” relationship with Jesus Christ. It seemed that I was supposed to be responsible for my personal walk with Christ and that had very little to do with a community of faith. Reuben’s ideas made me stop and consider the place of community for spiritual growth. Here is an excerpt from his book:
Oh Lord Jesus,
bring us together,
keep us together
We need to look at our children
and listen to our parents
and be sensitive to each other
and aware of each other.
Teach us to know that it's Thy will
that we go together.
Teach us to know that it's not
that bind us —
it's the life of Jesus Christ
that binds us —
and so we belong together
and we must go together.
— Reuben Welch ( Homecoming Magazine. Cited March 3, 2017. Online: http://www.homecomingmagazine.com/article/we-really-do-need-each-other/)
Paul was intentional about finding a place to call community. This was not necessarily among people who would have been like him. He went to Jews, but also to Gentiles. He spent time in fellowship with slaves and freemen, male and female. This was unusual and didn’t just happen by accident. It was the intentionality of his mission to become a part of a community of faith that embraced diversity. He realized that he needed to be a part of a diverse group of people for his own spiritual growth.
The Apostle Paul understood this need for living together in Christ. We are not alone on this journey but we are to humble ourselves within Christian community so that we might learn from one another. The Apostle Paul knew it. Reuben Welch knows it. Now, we are called to live it. We really do need each other.
Lord, thank you for your holy love and your willingness to fellowship with folks like me. Amen.