Last night Norma Jean and I visited the Church Family in Temple Terrace, Florida. When we walked in there were old friends Les and Linda Maydell visiting from South Africa! Soon we learned the church was concluding a gospel meeting with David Barnes from San Jose, California.
Also there were Florida College students visiting from all over the world! Some of the students we knew from other states. This and recent experiences remind me again of the vastness of our fellowship.
Before coming to Tampa I was in a Gospel Meeting in Grinnell, Iowa. It’s a small town of just over 9,000. On Sunday morning the attendance was 38. However, there was a couple I met who wintered in Florida and knew some good friends of ours from Indiana, who also had spent their winters in Florida.
The Sister remarked, “Well, it’s a small world, isn’t it?!”
I remembered a line from Dee Bowman and said, “No, it’s just a big brotherhood!”
The New Testament speaks of “the brotherhood” only twice. And both times in Peter’s first epistle.
As he reminded the scattered Christian of their duties in various relationships, he exhorted, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17)
Then following his admonition to be on guard for the Devil’s advances, he warned, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:9)
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 brother, or near kinsman”; in the plural, “a community based on identity of origin or life.” The verb used in 1 Peter 2:17 calls for constant, continued action.
It is interesting that the brotherhood is singled out to particular attention. While it is true that New Testament churches were independent, autonomous, self-governing groups, there should be a bond of affinity and affection among all believers. In an age of independence and self-assertiveness, there is too much isolation from others who share in the common faith.
I remember as a youngster going with my parents to visit other churches in the Indianapolis area. As a result I became acquainted with other believers. Acquired new friends. And developed relationships that continue until this day.
Last night it was a pleasure to not only worship God, but join with brethren from literally all over the United States, and even the world! We joined with them in singing, praying and reflecting on God’s word. There was joy in seeing old friends. Sharing hugs and handshakes. And reflecting on good memories of by gone days.
Love the brotherhood? Absolutely! For my taste, there is 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 heirs of the same blessings and will receive the same heavenly inheritance.
Is the brotherhood perfect? No, because I’m part of it! And so are you! We fall short. Make mistakes. Require forgiveness. Need grace. And beg for mercy. But there’s a lot to love!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman