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one-another

One:  “having the value of 1; used to refer to a single person or thing.”

Each:  “every one of two or more people or things considered separately.”

As they relate to all of the people in our lives and those who surround us every day, the gist of the words “one” and “each” is: a single person considered separately.

We are all familiar with the multitude of “one another” and “each other” passages in the New Testament; fifty-nine of them according to one list that I found online.  While many of these reiterate the same imperative instructions, it is still quite an extensive list.  Love one another.  Forgive each other.  Serve one another.  Encourage one another.  Carry each other’s burdens.  Be kind and compassionate to one another.  Pray for each other.  Offer hospitality to one another.  Be patient with each other.  Stop passing judgment on one another.  Simple statements.  No difficult words.  Pretty straightforward, right?

The challenge is that, given our great familiarity with these passages, it is all too easy for us to subconsciously begin to view the intended targets and recipients of these attitudes and behaviors as the vast, vague, all-inclusive aggregate of humanity.  “One another” starts to mean everyone, which in effect means no one; i.e.,  everyone in general, but no one in particular.  Au contraire, mes chers frères et sœurs!!!

It’s not “everyone in general,” but “that person in particular” that God has in mind. That person with their own distinctive face, name, date of birth, Social Security number, workstation, address, cell phone number, and Facebook account.  Love him.  Forgive her.  Serve that man.  Encourage that woman.  Carry that grieving person’s burden.  Be kind and compassionate to that exasperating, insensitive, tiresome individual.  Pray for that politician.  Offer hospitality to that stranger or homeless person.  Be patient with that brother.  Stop passing judgment on that sister.

You know who they are.  Look for them.  They are everywhere.  They are us.

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