At work, we have a lot of meetings. What tends to happen in those meetings is that people will arrive, find their seats (hopefully the one they had last time) and bury themselves in their phone to escape the awkward silence. Sadly, this is what church gatherings tend to look like, too. But our relationship to one another as Christians is not the same as an employee’s relationship to other employees. To the church at Rome, Paul says,
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10
Notice first that Christians are to love one another with brotherly affection. Now, in that time, it wasn’t uncommon for people within a religion to call each other “brother”. Heck, people even do it today outside of religious contexts. But this idea of brotherhood is even more special to Christians in light of the gospel. All who have believed in Jesus as Savior and Lord have been not only saved from God’s wrath toward sin, but also adopted as children of God. See what love the Father has had for us, that we should be called children of God!
What that means, then, is that Christians don’t merely use the word “brother”; we are brothers and sisters. We have been adopted into God’s family, and we are called to love one another in light of that reality.
What is brotherly affection? Well, in a healthy family, you see this. People say that blood is thicker than water. There’s a special bond, a special love that family members tend to have for one another. Christians are called to a familial kind of love.
Tied closely with that is the next statement that Paul writes: outdo one another in showing honor. This is something that healthy families do. We’ve heard the common expression: family first. And many would boldly claim that they’d always put their families above themselves. This is the same idea here. It’s not about pretending that someone is better or more important. It’s about actually considering them as more important than oneself. It’s about putting their needs above our own whenever possible and appropriate.
Too often today, a church functions like a business or a service provider. Widely, the idea of family has been lost, maybe not intellectually, but practically. We call each other “brother”, but we don’t treat each other like brothers. We can’t even be bothered to walk across the room to say “hello”. And we’re so caught up about what these brothers can do for us that we fail to outdo them in showing us honor.
Brothers and sisters, this should not be so. We are family. Church is family business. We have some work to do, by God’s grace, and it starts with our minds. The reason we don’t treat each other like family is that we have the wrong mindset about the church. If you grew up in a healthy family, you already know how to treat family. If you consider the church to be family, you will treat the church as family.
Family members care about one another. They are gracious toward one another. They help each other, spend time with each other, greet each other when they get home. They put each other’s needs above their own. Sometimes, they fight, but they work it out. They have interventions, when need be. They do life together.
Christians are family. It’s about us being who we are, by God’s grace and for His glory.