The above headline falls squarely under the category of Rhetorical. However, if it is so rhetorical why is it that we find so many people making justifications for not loving a brother in certain specific situations?
Keep in mind, we are not discussing the Agape love but the love that is known by emotions, Phileo love. Nor am I even suggesting that this is easy all the time to do. My own life would NOT bear witness to an attitude of brotherly love 100% of the time and for some, maybe not even 30%. The point is not to point and place blame but the point is to understand the ideal, the standard, the level of affection that Christ had. When we understand that ideal, we can better examine ourselves and look for that weakness that we can correct.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (1Pe 1:22-23 ESV)
As the old saying goes, we can pick our friends but we can’t pick our family. Even the natural course of life tells you that your parents chose to bring you and your siblings into the world, you did not get to choose. In the same way, the Gospel, the seed of the living world goes out, enters the heart and produces a Christian. You don’t get to choose who.
In fact, the early church tried to do that, preaching only among the Jews at first. However, the Gospel is not to be denied and it was eventually preached among the Gentiles. Although I have no proof of this, I imagine that certain ethnic or race groups may have initially been denied the Gospel though history but I dare say that there is no such group of persons to whom the Gospel was not eventually preached. If Paul had written Gal 3:28 today, I am convinced it would read something like this (bold print is my addition)
There is neither Jew nor Greek nor Muslim, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, there is neither Democrat, Republican, or Independent, there is no black or white, communist or capitalist, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28 ESV)
Not that he needed to add those words because they are implied in that verse as well as any other distinction man might make (blue eyes, red hair, rich, poor, etc) How dare we make distinctions where God has made none!
Without brotherly affection, it is easier to fight and argue. Without that bond that says, I like you and want to be around you, selfishness will grow. We will make distinctions among ourselves (James 2), strive to inflate our importance (James 3) and fight for our own rights, privileges, economic security (James 4). When we realize that all of us (which includes the one writing and the one reading) were/are sinners who need God’s grace and mercy then we will be less judgmental towards others who also need it. (not need it more….that person does not exist) James 1 and 5.
We need to develop brotherly affection in ourselves and help draw it out in others. It is part of being a part of the family of God.
Question: Knowing that it can sometimes be hard, how can you develop brotherly love for someone that is hard to love? What else might cause a hindrance to developing this characteristic?
photo credit basykes