How to Make Biblical Application Very Real

it-just-got-realThere is a helpful Bible reading practice I have stumbled upon that I thought I’d share with the cyber-nets. It is very simple and goes like this:

Exchange the “one another” commands of the New Testament with specific people in your local church.

It looks like this. Take a verse with a one another command.

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Then, insert a name of someone in your own congregation with whom you can obey this command.

Bear (Henry’s) burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 specifically applied.

The reason I think this is helpful is because this was New Testament authors’ intention when writing their various letters to the churches. That is, when they gave commands concerning brothers and sisters and one anothers they did not have a general application in mind, but they meant for their commands to be worked out within the local church. In exhorting them, the New Testament writers wanted their readers to think particularly about the people in their local congregations; those they were committed to and regularly gathered with for fellowship. Therefore, the commands that have to do with brothers, sisters, and one anothers were not meant to be received as general niceties to strive for in the Christian life, but commands that should have concrete application in the life of the local church. Given that, inserting the names of specific people from your local church into the one another exhortations helps to apply the passages as they were originally intended.

So it looks like this…

Love (John the graphic artist) with brotherly affection. Out do (him) in showing honor. Romans 12:10

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count (the high school kids who sit on the right side of the sanctuary) as more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Do all things without grumbling or disputing (with Frank, even though he is hard to deal with at times). Philippians 2:14

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of (Jane, the woman who recently lost her husband). Philippians 2:4

Live in harmony with (the poor family in your church that barely makes rent each month). Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16

Be kind to (Alex), tenderhearted, forgiving (him even though he gossiped about you), as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to (Jennifer), tenderhearted, forgiving (her even though she hasn’t been there for you recently), as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to (Kyle), tenderhearted, forgiving (he insulted you), as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with (Adrian’s annoyances)  in love. Ephesians 4:2

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve (Jason and his family). Galatians 5:13

Consider how to stir up (Charles and Caitlin) to love and good works…Hebrews 10:24

Obey (Pastor Jeff and Pastor Marcus) and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Hebrews 13:17

The Bible is not meant to provide us with abstract adages that we can apply whenever we see convenient, but it is a book filled with exhortations that have everything to do with the real people in our lives. As they tell us in preaching class, general applications are disobeyed applications, but specificity breeds obedience. Don’t apply the Bible generally, but specifically; avoid abstraction and get concrete. Reading it in that way will transform the shape of our Christianity.

For your convenience and blessing, here is a nice list of various one another passages to build off of. Get started!

About Dana Dill

I'm a Christian, husband, daddy, pastor, professor, and hope to be a friend to pilgrims on their way home.
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1 Response to How to Make Biblical Application Very Real

  1. My pastor likes to do this, and it really is a powerful practice… Thanks!

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