Doctrine & Theology,  Musings

Sibling Status Means Something

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. (1 Corinthians 12:14-18)

The image of the body of Christ as a body is essential to our understanding of the Church. Some members function as hands, others are feet, still others work behind the scenes, yet are nonetheless vital organs to this precious organism. Yet, the body of Christ is not just a body. It is more than just a collection of saints working together to glorify God and Christ. It is a family. We are brothers and sisters with one another, and with Christ.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.(Hebrews 2:9-11; 17)

GotQuestions provides some helpful commentary here:

The word translated “brothers” is the word used for blood relatives, but it also refers to Christians. The generic term brother in Scripture usually also includes sisters. In this passage, the writer of Hebrews is explaining how the perfect God-Man, Jesus, could call imperfect humans His brothers and sisters.

Consider these encouraging words from Christ Himself:

Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33–35)

While Christ is indeed the Son of God, the second Person of the Godhead, God incarnate, our Savior, Lord, and King, He is also a brother to believers, for those who have been saved have been adopted into the family of God.

This gracious truth has consequences. It means that we not only refer to our brethren within the church as brothers and sisters in name, but we treat them as such in deed as well.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

It’s easy for us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Who doesn’t love to smile and praise the Lord for the good He has done and the blessings He has bestowed? Oftentimes, it is also natural for us to weep alongside our brothers and sisters, for we identify with their trial or pain, whether vicariously or in experience.

Yet, there are times when some Christians become stoic in the face of another’s grief. Their brother or sister is weeping, asking for prayer, seeking comfort from her family, and for some reason, her family remains unmoved. Why? Where does the heart of Christianity go in these times?

This reaction is observed when the unaffected brother (or sister) simply does not care about the situation being endured by his sibling. It is not something that he deems important and, rather than sharing in the grief of his dear brother or sister, he instead bestows silent judgment.

To be certain, if the grieving sister is mourning over the loss of something that has invited sin into her life, then solace and consolation may not be expected from the body of Christ. For this individual, her siblings must call her to repentance, if necessary, and restore her in a spirit of gentleness, as per Galatians 6:1. If, however, the war-torn sister is grieving over a situation that is important to her without causing her to sin, then her family should share in that grief.

In other words, just because you or I don’t think something is important, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Just because the same scenario wouldn’t affect you or me in an adverse manner, doesn’t mean that it isn’t trying for our sister in Christ. As a Christian, we are called to bear the burdens of our siblings (Galatians 6:2), whether these be the burdens of mortifying sin and temptation, or other heavy spiritual and emotional encumbrances. It is important to recognize, however, that this principle does not merely apply to the burdens that we deem worthy of our shared consideration.

To behave in such a manner is indeed unbecoming of the Christian. We are not called to judge the validity of our sister’s trial, we are called to walk alongside her as she journeys through it. It is a gift and a privilege to serve our brothers and sisters this way. Has not Christ comforted us in our affliction? Then why would we not offer comfort to others?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

When we fail to serve the body in this way, we demonstrate our ignorance of what it means to be a member of this great thing called the Church. We not only bring further dismay upon our distressed brother or sister, we denigrate Christ, besmirching the great doctrine of adoption as God’s sons and daughters.

Is your brother weary from the burdens that currently weigh heavy on his shoulders? Let him lean on you, let him find Christ’s strength demonstrated in your compassion. Is your sister grieving a loss? Embrace her and weep with her, regardless of whether it is something that would stir tears in your own eyes. This is Christlike love. This is our command (John 13:34). This is our calling.

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

*This post originally appeared here at Equipping Eve

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