By NEDDIE WINTERS
Greater Depth: Going Deeper with God and with One Another in 2021
January is the perfect time to take a look back and a look forward. I believe looking back gives us an opportunity to reflect, remember, repent and refocus for the future. When I look back at the dismay, disparity, death, and even the desperation of 2020, I can see and sense God is calling us to a deeper relationship with Him and with one another.
Mission Mississippi’s theme for the 2021 journey is “Greater Depth: Going Deeper with God and with One Another.” We are challenging Christians to go deeper in their relationships by “Building One Another Up.”
Throughout the New Testament, the writers exhorted Christians to embrace specific actions that would enable them to grow spiritually and function properly. The phrase “one another” is used some 58 times in the New Testament (excluding the gospels), exhorting the body of Christ to grow deeper in their relationships with one another. We are challenging Christians over the next 12 months to embrace and express the following exhortations in deepening our relationships and building one another up:
◆ Loving One Another
◆ Praying for One Another
◆ Forgiving One Another
◆ Accepting One Another
◆ Encouraging One Another
◆ Honoring One Another
◆ Admonishing One Another
◆ Bearing One Another’s Burdens
◆ Serving One Another
◆ Bearing with One Another
◆ Submitting to One Another
◆ Members of One Another
For 28 years, Mission Mississippi has been challenging Christians to heed Jesus’ call to live out the grace of the gospel through GRACISM: The act of extending grace that we have experienced from Jesus Christ to promote living reconciled with all others. Our vision is seeing Christians living out the grace of the gospel unhindered by racism, racial strife, racial prejudice, racial hatred and racial division throughout Mississippi and the world. Our mission is to encourage and demonstrate grace in the body of Christ across racial lines so that communities throughout Mississippi can see practical evidence of the gospel message. The revelation and recognition that racism hinders evangelism is Mission Mississippi’s stimulus for existing.
Let’s begin 2021 with Jesus’ plan for evangelism to reach the lost, that we love one another as He has loved us, because this is the cornerstone and capstone of all the commandments and exhortations.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
We are to live and love in such a way that there is no question about who we are or Whose we are and Whom we represent. We are living billboards to reflect God’s brand!
We must be known first of all by our redemptive love. Jesus exemplified redemptive love by humbling Himself to wash the feet of Judas, who was to betray Him; of Peter, who was to deny Him; and of the rest, who were to forsake Him. Notwithstanding their failures and faults, He loved them all “to the end.” Redemptive love is the result of being born of God, receiving eternal life, and abiding in the light. Human love might superficially impress men with its words and wag of the tongue, but only divine love can express itself in action and reality. The absence of redemptive love will lead to unrighteousness and hatred in relation to others.
Secondly, we must be known for our reciprocal love, which means love shared in Christ and shown in Christ. We must make love visible in the home, the church and the world. Unless love becomes visible, it is not love at all. This love knows no differences, distinctions, distrust, discriminations or disharmonies.
Thirdly, we must be known for our reflected love. We must reflect redemptive and reciprocal love in ways that will convince the world we are Jesus’ disciples. This can be expressed in two ways, the reflected oneness of love and the reflected witness of love. Nothing is more powerful and wonderful than the oneness and witness of love. Unfortunately, in the world today there is so little reflected oneness, there is no convincing witness.
Join us over the next 12 months by embracing and expressing our 12 exhortations for building one another up.
Neddie Winters is president of Mission Mississippi, an organization dedicated to racial reconciliation within the body of Christ. A proud alumnus of Alcorn State University, Neddie lives in Clinton with his wife, Tommie.