“Love one another with brotherly affection” Romans 12:10a
I’ve got a question for you. Do you like the church?
You may say you love Jesus, and you may even say you love the church. But do you like the church?
I don’t mean do you enjoy going to church services. I don’t mean you really care about what happens with Christianity.
I mean to do you actually love Christians.
Do you love the people in your local church community?
The apostle Paul wrote many things to the church in Rome. One of these commands really should hit us. Love one another with brotherly affection.
Not Disinterested Love
We know we are called as Christians to love one another. We know that loving one another means seeking the best for each other. It means doing hard things, sacrificial things, for each other.
But we are called to do those things out of a real affection for one another. Do you have that affection?
As an only child, brotherly affection is not something I learned as a child. But it is something I have seen through my wife, my children, and my church family.
My wife’s siblings don’t always agree. They don’t always get along. But there is a deep abiding affection. My wife can’t help but have a deep loving affection and care for her brothers and sister. No matter what differences or trials they may face.
Similarly, my children may fight and bicker. But they have a deep abiding closeness and affection that endures. They love to cuddle and hug one another. But this affection shows itself most keenly when they are confronted with an external threat or trial. When a bully threatens, the siblings form rank and protect one another.
In the same way, we are to have a deep and abiding affection for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Affection includes emotions and feelings. We should like our fellow Christians. We should actually care about them and their well being. When your brother or sister is in trouble it should effect you. That is part of what affection means.
Now More Than Ever
Right now we need this brotherly, or sisterly, affection more than ever in American Christianity. We face a pandemic with all kinds of collateral issues involved: masks, gatherings, obedience to authorities, personal liberty, etc.
All the while we are also facing the same external threats we have faced since the church’s inception: doctrinal disputes, heresies, religious liberty concerns, moral decline, lostness, etc.
The people of God have many disputes within and without. The church is full of contrary opinions and strategies. But one things ought to override all of it. Brotherly Affection.
We as the body of Christ must refuse to write off our brothers and sisters because we disagree. We must seek to maintain the relationship even when things are difficult.
We are family. We are the family of God. We should be hurt when one of us strays away. We should be hurt when our relationships are broken.
Our differences and disagreements matter. They are not nothing. But they shouldn’t come between family. They don’t shatter the bonds of Christ’s blood shed on our behalf.
As is the case with my children. These many outside threats should be driving us closer together. Not further apart. There are bullies out there.
If you don’t find yourself loving fellow Christians with brotherly affection you need to pray that the Holy Spirit would give you that affection. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Spend more time with them. Work together with them for the good of the Kingdom of God.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” Ephesians 4:4-6
We are one body. We must stand together with love and brotherly affection.