Next to Christ and His Word, the most sacred thing for a believer is the brotherhood of believers. Salvation brings
us into the Fatherhood of God, Headship of Christ, Leadership of the Holy Spirit and the brotherhood of believers.
Such a brotherhood comes because of our position -our position in Christ. The practical outworking of such a
brotherhood demands four realities.
1. LOVE: Biblical 'Agape' love is more than human sentiment. By our natural birth we have acquired human love
-kindred feelings towards our equals or close -knit family members. Divine love is wholly of a different nature.
Firstly, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. "...the fruit of the Spirit is love..." (Gal.5: 22). The Bible says in Rom.5:5,"The
love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us". Hence it is a Spirit - wrought
love offered to every regenerate person. Secondly, it is impartial. Paul praised the believers at Colosse for
possessing this love. It was love for all saints (Col.1: 4). At Colosse there were Jewish as well as Gentile converts.
In Christ, they found a new oneness. rich and poor, male or female, bond or free, Jew or Gentile, all found
togetherness in Christ. Thirdly, it was Christ -inspired. Christ told His disciples in John 13:34, "...as I have loved you,
that ye also love one another". Christ left us an example that we may follow His steps. Fourthly, divine love is
sacrificial love. The Lord Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
for his friends". Christ expended and exemplified that love on the cross. Fifthly, it is a testifying love. The Lord Jesus
said in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another". We are not
told that we witness if we congregate, sing and worship together, but if we love one another. Love is the
unmistakable badge of Christian discipleship. Sixthly, it is a forgiving and cleansing love. Rev.1: 5 tells us that Christ
"loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood". Christ chose to forgive and cleanse us because He loved
us. Seventhly, it is an unchanging love. Christ loved His own which were in the world. He loved them unto the end
(John 13:1). Eighthly, it is a love, which has concern for truth. Paul admonished the believers at Ephesus to speak
"the truth in love"(Eph.4: 15) and we read in 1 Cor. 13:6 that divine love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in
truth. In human equations 'love' and 'truth' rarely go together. We sacrifice love in the name of truth or we sacrifice
truth in the name of love. We are made to believe that "love is blind". Such a love is not divine but human. Christ
rebuked Peter openly, publicly; "Get thee behind me, Satan" in Matt.16, but Christ did it out of concern and
compassion. Later, when Peter rebuked Simon the sorcerer at Samaria, he did it out of concern for his soul. Though
Simon professed to have believed and also got baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus, the Apostle saw that his
heart was not right in the sight of God. Peter further said, "I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the
bond of iniquity". He urged him to repent of his wickedness. This is love in action. Proverbs tells us that "Open
rebuke is better than secret love" (27:5) and that "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (27:6).
God charged Eli, the priest for being soft towards his wicked children in the name of love. Thou "honourest thy sons
above me" (1 Sam.2: 29) said the man of God to Eli. 1 Kings 1: 5,6 speak of Adonijah, the son of David who exalted
himself saying "I will be king". His father had not displeased him at any time in saying, "Why hast thou done so?"
Later, the same Adonijah wanted to marry Abishag, the wife and concubine of David for which Solomon put him to
death. The sons of Eli and the son of David had ignoble deaths partly because of their fathers' human sentiment. It
was love, which sacrificed truth.
2. UNITY: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" sang the Psalmist in
Psa.133: 1. Christian brotherhood calls for unity. Uniformity is based on outward appearance but unity is based on
inward life. The body of Christ is an organism and not an organization. Organization functions purely on rules and
regulations. For a common objective members form and abide by certain laws. Organizations like political alliances
can build or break at will. Christian unity is based on life that holds the Head. There is a vertical, upward relationship
that keeps the horizontal relationships going.
Such a unity is a Spirit -wrought unity. No- where in the Scriptures are we commanded to make unity but we are
expressly told to keep unity. Eph.4:3 tells us to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The indwelling Holy
Spirit makes unity possible and the humility and love of Christ make unity actual and practical.
In practical life such an unity is not easy. As believers we are drawn from varied backgrounds —economic, social,
lingual, cultural, regional and religious. No two persons have the same temperament. Someone wrote this poem—I
do not know who, but the meaning makes my statement clear.
To live with Christ in Heaven above
will certainly be glory;
To live with saints on Earth below,
well, that's another story.
In John 7 we read that the brethren of Jesus did not believe in Him but mocked at Him. Joseph was forced to share
a home with brothers who hated him. Moses was called to serve the Israelites who never appreciated his labour or
sacrifice. Paul, after 31 years of ministry had this to write before his death, "Demas hath forsaken me;" "Alexander
the coppersmith did me much evil"; "all men forsook me", "All in Asia turned away from me" in 2 Timothy. Yet Paul,
Joseph and Moses sought the unity of God's children.
3.SERVICE: Service marks the spirit of Christian brotherhood. It' is contrary to Christian spirit to ask like Cain, " Am
I my brother's keeper?" The simple answer is that we are. In Gal.5: 13 we are commanded by love to serve one
another. Eph.4: 7 and 1 Cor. 12:7 tell us the unmistakable truth that each believer is gifted. What is a gift? A gift is a
God -given ability to serve. Differences in gifts are for the total well -being of the Body of Christ. The sovereign God
divides to every man severally as He wills (1 Cor.12: 11) and demands the members to have "the same care one for
another" (1 Cor.12: 25). The active ministry of every individual member "maketh increase of the body"(Eph.4: 16).
There is no justification for any member to be a passive spectator. We are expected to serve. There are only two
kinds of members in the Body of Christ; the givers and the grabbers -the participants or the parasites he participants
both give and receive. The parasites always receive and never give. If at all they give anything—it is death to the
body. Cancer in the human body is nothing but a few cells, which independently develop themselves. They absorb
all the nutrients to themselves; grow unusually large causing death to the whole body.
Diotrephes is one such parasite about whom we read in 3 John. He loved pre-eminence. He discredited the ministry
of John. He exercised "a reign of terror" forcing believers to toe the line. Those who dared to disagree were put out
of fellowship. How different in the same assembly was Gaius! Though he had failing health, he walked in truth,
cared for brothers and strangers too. The visiting preachers were much warmed by Gaius' hospitality. Gaius refused
to give up his good behaviour despite the bad example of dictatorial Diotrephes. It is sad that Diotrephes refused to
learn from Gaius.
Nehemiah is another good example of a true servant. Though a cupbearer in Shushan palace to the king,
Nehemiah's heart was linked to God's people. When Hanani, one of his brothers came, he enquired about the
welfare of God's people. Hearing about the broken walls and burnt gates of Jerusalem, he sat down to weep and
pray for four months. Out of that long season of prayer conviction ripened in him to go to Jerusalem and undertake
the huge task of rebuilding the walls. He had much opposition to his good labour but yet he continued to serve
4.SACRIFICE: Closely linked to "service" is the reality of "sacrifice". Think of Moses who loved God and God's
people. The Bible says in Heb. 11: 24,25, "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son
of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin
for a season". Moses sacrificed his worldly position and honour to stand for and to stand with the people of God.
Sad to say, the very people for whom he sacrificed so much turned against him. They abused Moses and wanted to
kill him. It was a bitter path to tread. He prayed to God in Num.11: 15, "...kill me, I pray thee..., if I have found favour
in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness". The Lord encouraged Moses to go on in service.
Jeremiah is another prophet who sacrificially served God. He was commanded by God to deliver a stern message
of judgment. The opposition he faced was so cruel and crushing that he wished more than once to resign from the
office of the prophet. He endured however oppositions, beatings, imprisonment and kept faithfully proclaiming God's
word for 40 years.
Paul was another who served sacrificially his Master. In 2 Tim.2: 10 he says, "...1 endure all things for the elect's
sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory". Often misunderstood,
Paul went on to serve His Master.
Love, Unity, Service, and Sacrifice—four realities that constitute the spirit of brotherhood. In John the apostle, we
find the same spirit at work for the edification of believers and for the glory of God.