Jesus said: A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35 (NIV)
Here with Master set the pattern of love for those who follow the Way. Just before his death he prayed that those who believed in him might be one (Jn 17:11, 21). A deep comradeship with a special quality was the mark of his disciples. Do we have that mark?
Many others follow the Way. They know its joys, its difficulties, its challenges, its hopes, as we do. They trust in the same Saviour, acknowledge the same master, bear the same Name, are children of the same Father. They need our fellowship, as we need theirs. With individual differences, at the core we are one. Many practical implications emerge from Paul's development of the theme of the body of Christ. His delightful anatomical and physiological metaphors should appeal to us and are well worth pondering (see Further reading).
In a busy medical life we cannot always do things just as we wish. We certainly should belong to a church and join regularly in worshipping God in company with others. But we may need to get across (gently and tactfully, but still firmly) that for us involvement in too many church activities is just not on. Indeed, doing too many things, and perhaps not doing any of them well, does no honour to our Lord and is little help to others.
Christian fellowship between not only doctors but all involved in medical and health fields can be exciting, as those who have met colleagues from and in other parts of the world will know. They may see the pressures under which some live and work and the loneliness that they suffer. They may experience, as I have, the kindness and caring love they can show to a visitor. But whether or not we have any direct contact with them, we can pray for them and look for other ways of fostering the oneness in love that our Master wants us all to encourage and enjoy.
Recently a radio programme told of Australian soldiers working and dying on the infamous Burma-Thailand railway during World War II. Despite the surrounding horror more than one man died, the narrator said, 'wit his head in a mate's lap and another mate holding his hand -- dying in an atmosphere of love'. How far does our Christian fellowship measure up to that level of mateship?
Grant us grace, Lord, to love one another as you have loved us.
Further reading: Jn 13:12-17, 31-35, 15:12-17. Rom 12:3-5. 1 Cor 12:12-27. Eph 4:15-16.