Brothers, Sisters and Distant Cousins.

One of the thing that happens when you become a part of the living body of Christ is that you inherit brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Some of them are even akin to fathers and mothers due to their maturity in the Lord and the way they nuture us, but they remain, in essence, brothers and sisters.  There is a phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ – I’m not sure if thats a Scottish saying or if is wider than that, but it usually references the fact that those who are united by blood, blood relatives, stick closer than others.  As brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are indeed united through his blood.  There is a unity, a oneness to be had that is beyond any fleshly link.

There is an insipid concept in Christian circles and it goes by the name of ‘fellowship.’  Its often relegated to a cup of watery coffee after a ‘service’ where we’ve sat staring at the back of our brother or sisters head.  We can have intimate knowledge of the rears of our church folks because in some settings its what we see most of.  I’m waiting for the day when I have to say “will you just turn your back to me, to see if I can remember you.”

Friends, this isn’t fellowship.  This is being a audience in an auditorium.  We often respond to our brothers and sisters like they are distant cousins…not even that!   Man, I have natural 2nd cousins twice removed that I have a deeper relationship with that some of the ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Lord that I come across from time to time.  Why does the church have such an aversion to intimacy with one another?

The word ‘allelon’ in the Greek, which means ‘one another’ appears loads and loads of times in the New Testament.  Our existence as brothers and sisters is to ‘one another’ each other.  We enter into a life in Christ which is not alone, because it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in US.  Not us individually, although he is within is, but he is MANIFEST in us as a body together.

Friends, this impinges on so much of our experience and faith.  It affects our discipleship if we aren’t learning in the context of community.  If affects the extent to which we are being pastorally encouraged – this is why I have such an aversion to the ‘pastor-sheep’ set up because no one brother or sister can be the sole ‘cure’ to hundreds of others.  It affects our effectiveness in missional living if we aren’t engaged with one another.  Jesus is revealed more fully and diversely in the context of brothers and sisters together.  Many a Christian has fizzled out – not through sin, letheragy, doubt, fear or persecution, but through lack of a brother.  Loneliness is the curse of humanity. God said ‘it is not good for man to be alone’ not only, I don’t think, in relation to man and wife relationship but as a whole.  It is GOD’S desire to have fellowship with his creation, his people made in his image.  How much more, then, do we need fellowship in Christ with one another?

I want to encourage you to look around you and ask questions of the relationships you have with your brother and sisters in Jesus.  Are there those who you’d trust your life to?  Are there those you are holding out on?  Are there issues in your own life that prevent you from opening up your life to your brothers or sisters? Or maybe this – maybe you just haven’t had the revelation in your life of all Jesus wants to build in you through fellowship with your brothers and sisters through Him, that you might be built up together in Him?

You know, I don’t want friends, acquaintances…I want brothers and sisters – lots of em. To share a common life centred around Jesus Christ, manifesting and sharing his presence. I think that is perhaps one of the best definitions of ‘church’ we can find.  Are we up for it?


3 thoughts on “Brothers, Sisters and Distant Cousins.

  1. I guess the question then is – trust? What is the group doing together to build trust and ensure it's a safe place for people to let their guard down.I'd want to ask how seriously the church is taking church health issues such as trust levels, and what that commitment to healthy function looks like in practice before I was prepared to be more open with others there. Where are the safety nets?The other issue is time, of course. Many of us, perhaps, are blessed with families and friends outside the church with whom we feel we can be ourselves and be loved and accepted as we are. We don't need to extend the circle beyond that and may not have the time and energy to invest.

  2. Yes, trust is important. I guess I have to say that in my mind when I'm talking church I'm not thinking institution. I'm talking one to one relationships with people I know who are brothers and sisters from a variety of settings and churches. I tend to approach people on the basis that they are people, not institutions. I don't think that the primary reason people don't connect is because they are fearful if they can trust, I think much of it is tied up in the individualistic religious concept surrounding current day Christian expression.With regards to time, its a poor excuse. Really, if you have the connection with people and a communitas, you will adjust your schedule to be part of it. We move on from being part of something because it improves our lives or suits us to being committed at the heart of our group of people. You know yourself the value of community and the effect it has when its not there. The challenge is to continue to build it with Jesus Christ at the centre.

  3. I stumbled across you blog today, and am very glad I did so! I live in the U.S., and my wife and I have recently become Salvationists, though we both come from a set of beliefs (and still maintain some) that are quite different. However, we love alot about the Army and love the potential and base it provides for real community and service in our town. I really appreciate reading your post-Salvation Army, monastic-minded, and foreign view on serving God and others. It provides me with insight from a person with similar thoughts, but has been were I may be going. I look forward to reading more of your posts as they come!

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