We hear the term brother or sister in Christ bandied about a lot in church. You are told that believers in Christ are all brothers and sisters. But really what does that mean?
My sister died of pneumonia when I was just 13 so those years when I really could have used a big sister I never learned what it meant to have a sister or to be a brother. Listening to friends who grew up with older and younger siblings and watching my own children interact can only give me an outsider’s understanding. So if, within the body of believers we are to love and care for each other as brother and sister, how do I do that?
When my wife of over 19 years suddenly (at least it was sudden to me) told me she wanted a divorce I was devastated and turned to a long time friend and her husband for support. Since they are strong Christians and active in their church everything they offered was bible based and centered on their faith and on Christ Jesus. Since I didn’t want to continue going to the same church that my wife and I had attended together and that she was still attending, I started attending church with my friend and his wife.
This particular church was making an effort to develop a community beyond just a group of people who gathered together to worship. The members spent time having coffee before the service and often having social gatherings unconnected to bible study, just to become friends. I have never walked into a church were everyone I smiled at smiled back a genuine smile of welcome.
I was invited to join a home group and here too I saw people caring for and about each other. They were talking about how God had intervened in their lives and sharing prayers about the things that were happening to them, their families and their friends. In the home group they did this by actually standing in a circle holding hands and each person praying for some issue in their lives (if the spirit moved them to pray at that time) and the others silently adding their prayers for that person or their issue.
For me this was a learning experience since I never learned to pray out loud with others. Prayer was always silent and private. Hearing other’s prayers helped me increase my ability to pray without self-consciousness and to just speak what is in my heart with honesty.
As a new member I asked the Pastor to meet with me and help me understand how to draw on God’s grace and guidance to work through an emotionally devastating time. He was generous with his time and thoughts and led me to a deeper understanding of God’s willingness to guide me to take the proper steps even when human wisdom had failed.
In a very dark and painful time, each of this people reached out to help someone they hardly knew, just because I had turned my life and my will over to God. They truly gave me the love and emotional support that a sibling would.
Through them I am learning the meaning of giving and receiving love as a true brother or sister in Christ. One way I have learned to be a brother in Christ is to start praying for other people. One friend’s father had a massive heart attack on the operating table as they attempted to install a stent in a blood vessel to his heart. My prayer was not that he be healed, rather that God give him piece and comfort. If it’s God’s will that this man be raised up to be with God, then His will be done. If it is to make a recovery, then His will be done. My prayer is for my friend’s father to be in comfort and contentment with whatever God does. My prayer for my friend is that she also be content with God’s will for her father. God’s will is going to control this situation and all we mortals can do is accept God’s will with contentment that He is doing whatever is best for her father.
Life has moved me away from these new found “brothers and sisters” but I am confident that God didn’t introduce me to this fellowship just to leave me floundering around in a new place without that Christian contact and support. I am just as sure that my learning about how to be a brother in Christ is just beginning and I will continue to grow.
I guess the answer to the question of how do I act as a brother in Christ is really simple; all I need to do is follow Christ’s teaching and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6-31).