This week Norma Jean and I are blessed to be on the campus of Florida College to attend their annual lecture series. It’s a special place for us.
FC is where we met. Dated. And were engaged to be married. I played basketball for FC on their first scholarship team. At FC I was privileged to meet and learn from some great men of God. Clinton Hamilton. Edgar Srygley. Homer Hailey. Bob Owen. Melvin Curry. Harry Payne Sr. And James R. Cope.
While at FC I first heard the preaching of men like James P. Miller. Franklin Puckett. H.E Phillips. Rufus Clifford Sr. And Paul Andrews. At FC friendships were developed that have lasted a lifetime. And at FC I was exposed to the greater community of “the brotherhood of believers.”
So last night was a wonderful pleasure to join with many brethren from all over the United States in singing, praying and reflecting on God’s word. There was joy in seeing old friends. Of sharing hugs and handshakes. Smiles and tears. And some good memories of by gone days.
In such gatherings, I am reminded of the Bible’s exhortation regarding the brotherhood. Here’s the context of what Peter says:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17, NIV)
This section is about relationships. The Christian’s relationship and responsibility to governmental authorities To non-believers. To our fellow-man. To God. And to our Christian brethren.
The word, “brotherhood, ” according to Greek scholars Vine and Thayer, means “a band of brothers.” “A feeling of brotherliness.” “The Christian fraternity. “ ”A fellow-believer, united to another by the bond of affection; so most frequently of Christians, constituting as it were but a single family.” “Denotes a near kinsman”; in the plural, “a community based on identity of origin or life.”
It is interesting that the brotherhood is singled out for particular attention. While it’s true that New Testament churches were independent, autonomous, self-governing groups, there should be a bond of filial affection and affinity among all believers. In an age of independence and self-reliance, there is too much isolation from others who share commonality in Christ.
Love the brotherhood? Absolutely! For my taste, there’s a little too much criticism of the brotherhood. And in the brotherhood. What we need is more love. Love the brotherhood because…
We are sharers of the same faith.
We are fellow travelers walking the same road.
We are partners together in God’s great work.
We are participants in the common salvation.
We are partakers of the Divine Nature.
We are companions of Christ’s suffering.
We are comrades in the fight against Satan.
We are members of God’s Family.
We are recipients of all spiritual blessings in Christ.
We are heirs together of the same heavenly inheritance.
Is the brotherhood perfect? No. Because I’m part of it! And so are you! We sin. Fall short. Make mistakes. Require forgiveness. Need grace. And beg for mercy. But there’s a lot to love.
By the way, the verb Peter uses calls for constant, continued action. This exhortation is never more needed than today. “Keep on loving the brotherhood!”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman