This past week-end in Portland, Oregon, has been a wonderful experience for Norma Jean and me.
It’s always a joy to see a young Christian couple joined in marriage like Justin and Ali Beth. And it’s a been genuine pleasure to meet the brethren in Portland for the first time and share the Word with them.
However, as is almost always the case, we find people with whom we share mutual friends. People who attended college with our children. Or the children of former classmates. Plus we quickly feel at home with folks who were totally unknown, but with whom we share a commonality of faith.
All of this has me thinking about brotherhood as we head back to Texas. The New Testament speaks of “the brotherhood” only twice. And both times in Peter’s first epistle.
As he reminded the scattered Christians 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.
For my taste, there is a little too much criticism of the brotherhood. And in the brotherhood. Peter’s admonition to “love the brotherhood” has never been more important. Think about what brotherhood means.
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 I thank God for the brotherhood. And appreciate the kindness, encouragement, and generosity of brethren we are privileged to meet.
God bless the brotherhood.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman