Maybe the following post bubbled up because this week I am excited about getting back with a small group of men in what I pray will become a place of encouragement and accountability. For almost 10 years at a former church I served at I was part of a table of 3 – 4 men that met weekly at a local restaurant and truly became that for each other. Different men along the way became a part of that table, but each committed to the other men. This commitment I believe forged brother type of relationships that carried the process of being discipled into it. That group has continued and I have to admit have missed it and now look forward to this happening in this new place I am at!!
Christian brotherhood – Bonhoeffer
“We speak to one another on the basis of the help we both need. We admonish one another to go the way that Christ bids us to go. We warn one another against the disobedience that is our common destruction. We are gentle and we are severe with one another, for we know both God’s kindness and God’s severity.”
I came upon this wonderful statement in Bonhoeffer’s book “Life Together” about brotherhood. Probably not even a word we throw around in our circles that much really, but has been substituted with brothers and sisters in Christ (well at least in the circles that we have that are made up of Christians… or religious people). But I have to admit to me and maybe others of you… the idea of brothers and sisters in Christ is thrown out there pretty flippantly. It sounds good, but feels a little to me like social media in which we throw the word friends about pretty flippantly. Haven’t you ever wondered about some of the things that get posted on FB, and if that same thought or idea would be stated that way or represented that way in a face to face encounter with someone who just may think differently than you. Ok, back to the idea of brotherhood… (I will save the social media one for another day. Just kind of got me going a bit there!!) I was mainly using it as a comparison to how lightly, an idea like brotherhood (or brothers and sisters in Christ) is used in our circles.
The backbone of the family is living within a family structure with the right kind of relationship between parent and children and between siblings. In my family there are things we can say to each other that if someone from outside of the family said…. as brothers and sisters we would come to each other’s defense (some of that severity that Bonhoeffer was referring to). But we could say it to each other because of the relationship of trust and a common bond. It is kind of like being a Cub’s fan in the same way. If I am conversing with a Cubs fan and throwing out something about the Cubs we don’t like (although that is of course a stretch because there is so little to dislike about those Cubbies!!) we though would be ok with each other yet, but if a Whitesox fan starts talking that same smack, I would definitely have to come to the defense of my Cubs.
Say you see a supposed brother (or sister) living life completely in opposition to what they have said they have bought into as being part of your family, and you know that this lifestyle could possibly lead to a very bad place for that person who is in your family, what do you do. Do you hold your tongue, because if you say something they are clearly going to get upset? Maybe avoidance is your process and within that approach maybe you go tell some others about what they are doing? Or maybe you choose to act like the brother or sister you claim to be and care for this person enough to “lovingly” confront. I hear Bonhoeffer saying that will be a conversation that will help both of us!! What do you think of that!!?? This type of conversation isn’t just for your bro, but also for you.
Do you think that God is both kind and severe with us?? Are we really seeing how He is with us and realizing how important it is for us to be that same way? What if we have to receive that? What will our reaction be? Family!! Brothers and Sisters!! These relationships are so important to our process as Christ followers. But why does this kind of relating seem to be practiced less and less… maybe because of the ease of being “friends” but not really having to confront and care in ways to converse like social media. Maybe because of the kum-ba-yah nature of how we do church these days? (oh there it is… we will talk and look more about that as we go forward) We need to each take a look at our lives and see how are we being a brother or sister to those God puts into our families, our households, the people we are called to build relationships with.