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. Dare I call you brother?

DARE I CALL YOU BROTHER?


http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Jesus-washing-feet-12.jpgToo often we sing songs and make statements to one another in the body of Christ but we do not mean what we sing or say. Now I can give numerous examples of prayers we sing to God and do not mean it. However for this edition of Pastor’s Corner I want to focus on just one aspect of such behaviour in the body of Christ. One of the terms of endearment in the Body of Christ is to call one another ‘brother’, but do we mean it? We also sing about it. I remember one song in particular.

 

Brother, let me be your servant.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.


We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.


I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.


I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.


When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.


Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.

Richard Gillard of New Zealand 1976-77

 

As I read through the words of the song again, I thought back to men who in the past called me brother, and yet treated me like an enemy. Dare we call ourselves a brother and not mean it? These are easy words. Think of the line in the first stanza: ‘let me be as Christ to you’. Another part that we so easily utter and do not mean is in the whole of the second stanza: We are pilgrims on a journey, we are brothers on the road, we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.”

The word Adlephos which is the Greek word for brother is used more than 300 times in the New Testament and only 14% of those usages are related to blood family, actual siblings. The rest are mostly spiritual in nature.

Now, think about it. How can we call one another brother and then abandon each other down the road, backstab one another, lie about one another, slander one another and on top of it all refuse to forgive one another as Christ who is closer than a brother has forgiven us. Let me put it in a different way. Just think of the consequences if Christ treated us as we treat one another. Would He then be closer than a brother? He forgave His murderers on the cross. He died for us while we were yet sinners, he taught us to greet our enemies and not only our brothers, and yet some of us cannot even greet our brothers. Shame on us!

Paul wrote these instructions to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 4:1-4 (ESV) 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—“

I have often said from the pulpit that we stick to one another in our blood family. Why? Because blood is thicker than water. We accept one another warts and all, we overlook trespasses, and we do not kick our children out when they are in error or sin, because we are family. But do we realise that there is one body bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and the blood of Christ is much, much, much thicker than water? And it is in this body that we are required to walk with humility, gentleness and patience while bearing with one another in love. Why? Because we are the body of Christ.

In the same chapter Paul ends with the following words in verse 31-32: 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Logos family, I know we are brothers and sisters. So, this article is obviously not for men only. What does Christ require of us?

  1. Acknowledge that we are family due to our New Birth and therefore we need to accept one another warts and all. Don’t look down on others because they are not perfect, because one glance in the mirror, and you will notice that you are not perfect either. Christ-likeness is our goal, you were never it. Ask the Pharisees.
  2. Carry one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. We must intentionally consider ways to meet other people’s needs
  3. Laugh when your brother or sister is laughing and weep with them when they are weeping. Never laugh in their calamity and weep in their joy. I have sadly seen this trait even in the ministry. When another pastor’s ministry seems more blessed than that of others, some weep, and criticise and slander such a brother, but when his ministry comes crashing down, the smile on their face and the joy in their hearts return.
  4. When a brother or sister is caught in sin, you have an obligation to restore them gently according to Galatians 6:1-2. You must never use Matthew 18 to get rid of a brother or sister. Matthew 18 is not four steps to discipline. Matthew 18 is talking about a ‘brother’, so by implication, it is four steps to loving restoration. It is a patient process, allowing your brother on all levels to repent, and if he does not then you pursue him with the gospel as you would pursue a pagan or a tax collector with the gospel. Oh how sad it is when we see brothers approaching a fellow believer in sin, and they simply try and get rid of the embarrassment quickly. It is like parents disowning an unwedded daughter who falls pregnant, as they have no concern for her, but for the embarrassment she caused them. So instead of loving her and walking on the road with her, they try and make the problem go away, so that a little bit of their image stays intact. Obviously their personal Kingdom is bigger to them than God’s Kingdom.
  5. Forgive one another, as Christ has forgiven you, even when it hurts. Matthew 18:35 (ESV) 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” We are required to forgive one another as God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus. We show forgiveness because we, too, fall short of God’s ideal. Knowing that God has graciously saved us from destruction motivates us to forgive others when they offend us. Often we are less patient with our fellow Christians than we are with nonbelievers. We expect more of Christians, and we feel betrayed when they fail us. When this happens, we need to look closely at the cross and remember the forgiveness we received there. We must set aside the self-centred attitude that leads to impatience and criticism of others.
  6. True brothers will take up the cloth and wash feet. We need to find practical ways that shows that we are truly servants of one another. Let us be as Christ to one another.

I can go on and add to the list. So, sadly, there are men who call you brother, but there were strings attached to that, and the strings are clearly not Christ. It is personal pre-eminence, and personal stature, and personal goals and a personal kingdom, because the rules of that kingdom are clearly different than in God’s Kingdom. It always has self-justifiable elements attached to it. It is like a fellow elder once said to me: “I cannot forgive, because I am not Christ.” Well, if this is true for him, then surely it should be true for all of us, and then the body of Christ is in a mess.

So, dare I call you brother and not mean it? Man will disappoint us, but let us always look at Him who is closer than a brother. He became a servant to us, even by dying for us on the cross, even while we were enemies. And now that we are in Christ, even when our sins become more, His grace overflows, because He is closer than a brother.

So, next time you sing “brother let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you”, please mean it.

Listen to the song: ‘Brother let me be your servant” and ask God to equip you spiritually towards that purpose.

 

 

"Oh Lord, give us grace that we here at Logos will be true brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh that we for the sake of your glory, and in following your example will be those who will share in each others  joy and sorrow Till we’ve seen this journey through."