The “Most Excellent” Commandment

Everyone has guilty pleasure movies. Those movies you’re afraid to admit you enjoy, either because they’re so obscure or ridiculous no one takes them seriously. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure happens to be one of mine (though technically one could consider it a classic by now). One of the many quotable lines of this films is “Be excellent to each other”, a phrase that actually lines up nicely with something I have been learning and studying over the past couple weeks. I’m talking about building relationships and establishing the Christian community.

How does one build relationships and establish the Christian community? Good question! Bill and Ted weren’t that far off, in a general sense. If we look to the Bible, there are 59 different verses in the New Testament alone that instruct how we should interact with others, and for the sake of uniformity I’ll be quoting the NKJV (not a version I typically use haha):

  1. “…have peace with one another.” – Mark 9:50
  2. “…wash one another’s feet.”  – John 13:14
  3. “…love one another…” – John 13:34
  4. “…love one another…” – John 13:34
  5. “…love one another…” – John 13:35
  6. “…love one another…” – John 15:12
  7. “…love one another.” – John 15:17
  8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” – Romans 12:10
  9. “…honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
  10. “Live in harmony with one another…” – Romans 12:16
  11. “…love one another…” – Romans 13:8
  12. “Therefore let us not judge one another…” – Romans 14:13
  13. “receive (accept) one another, just as Christ also received us…” – Romans 15:7
  14. “…admonish (instruct) one another.” – Romans 15:14
  15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” – Romans 16:16
  16. “…wait for one another.” – 1 Corinthians 11:33
  17. “…have the same care (equal concern) for one another.” – 1 Cor. 12:25
  18. “…greet one another with a holy kiss…” – 1 Cor. 16:20
  19. “…greet one another with a holy kiss…” – 2 Cor. 13:12
  20. “…through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13
  21. “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” – Galatians 5:15
  22. “Let us not be conceited, provoking one another or envying one another…” – Galatians 5:26
  23. “Bear one another’s burdens…” – Galatians 6:2
  24. “…with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
  25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” – Ephesians 4:32
  26. “…forgiving one another…” – Ephesians 4:32
  27. “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” – Ephesians 5:19
  28. “…submitting to one another in the fear of God (also, out of reverence for Christ).” – Ephesians 5:21
  29. “…in the lowliness of mind (humility), consider one another better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
  30. “Do not lie to one another…” – Colossians 3:9
  31. “Bearing with one another…” – Colossians 3:13
  32. “… and forgiving one another…” – Colossians 3:13
  33. “…teaching (one another)…” – Colossians 3:16
  34. “…admonishing one another…” – Colossians 3:16
  35. “…may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 3:12
  36. “…love one another;” – 1 Thessalonians 4:9
  37. “…comfort (encourage) one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
  38. “…comfort (yup, encourage) one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  39. “…edify (also encourage) one another…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  40. “…exhort (more encouraging!) one another daily…” – Hebrews 3:13
  41. “…consider (encourage!!!) one another in order to stir up love and good works…” – Hebrews 10:24
  42. “…exhorting (continual encouragement) one another…” – Hebrews 10:25
  43. “Do not speak evil of one another…” – James 4:11
  44. “Do not grumble against one another…” – James 5:9
  45. “Confess your trespasses to one another…” – James 5:16
  46. “…pray for one another…” – James 5:16
  47. “Live in harmony with one another…” – 1 Peter 3:8
  48. “…having compassion for one another…” – 1 Peter 3:8
  49. “…have fervent love for one another…” – 1 Peter 4:8
  50. “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling…” – 1 Peter 4:9
  51. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another…” – 1 Peter 4:10
  52. “…all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility…” – 1 Peter 5:5
  53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” – 1 Peter 5:14
  54. “…love one another.” – 1 John 3:11
  55. “…love one another…” – 1 John 3:23
  56. “…love one another…” – 1 John 4:7
  57. “…love one another.” – 1 John 4:11
  58. “…love one another…” – 1 John 4:12
  59. “…love one another.” – 2 John 5

Notice a pattern? Love and serve are primary among these examples. It should come as no surprise that these authors are mirroring Jesus’s response to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:37-38; to love God and love others. How does one love others? Well to support the list above, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” This is the foundation of building relationships and community, to love. And love is not merely an emotion, love is action. And love is specific. In C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, they are divided into “Storge” (empathy), “Phila” (friendship), “Eros” (erotic/romantic), and “Agape” (unconditional love shown by God). While all these are good and purposeful, it is “Agape” love that the Christian community should strive to emulate, both within and without. I admit I do not practice this to the fullness of my potential, but it is an area I continually aim to improve, going even contrary to my natural inclinations. And that, I believe, is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. So brothers and sisters, reflect on how you might “one another” this week (and the above list is by no means the end of Biblical encouragement, as the Old Testament holds many admonishments to the same effect) but if you find yourself in a new or unusual situation and unsure of how to act, remember Bill and Ted and “Be excellent to one another!”

 

 

S.D.G.

 

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