Brotherly Affection Provides For Others

brotherly love

Love one another with brotherly affection.
— Romans 12:10a —

Provision

Brotherly affection not only relates to purity, but also to provision.

When I moved to seminary, the Lord impressed on me the importance of working harder and longer. Impelled by Ephesians 4:28, I realized that I needed to work more hours so I could eat, pay for school, give to others, and not be a “mooch.”

I would suggest that this attitude of laboring for the sake of others is part of what it means to love one another with brotherly affection. In the context of Romans 12:10, brotherly affection is followed by the command to “Outdo one another in showing honor.” This doesn’t directly apply to money or giving, but certainly we honor one another with our wealth—with the ability to give to others.

With brotherly affection, we are to look out for ways to meet the needs of our family. Continue reading

Brotherly Affection Protects the Purity of One Another

fine artPhiladelphia is well-known as the city of  “brotherly love.” But before early Colonialists planted that city, the apostles Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews used the word philadelphia to speak of the way fellow Christians should love one another.

What does brotherly love mean? Romans 12:10 speaks plainly, “Love one another with brotherly affection” (philadelphias).  But how do we do that? By looking at the six uses of the word in the New Testament, we learn that brotherly love protects one anothers purity, provides for one another’s needs, and endures in both of these ennobling graces.

Today we’ll consider the purity of brotherly affection. Tomorrow we’ll turn to protection.  Continue reading

Life Together: A Short Review

lifeThe local church was always at the center of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s heart and theology. In his studies he wrote his first dissertation on life in the church (“The Communion of Saints: A Dogmatic Inquiry into the Sociology of the Church”).  As a theological professor he labored to train pastors for the church. And in his later writings, he often returned to muse on life together in the local church.

It’s this subject that entitles one of his most famous works, Life Together, posthumously subtitled, “The Classic Exploration of Christian Community.” Coming in at 122 pages, Life Together is not a long book. But it is one that invites you to think deeply about God’s design for his people. Overflowing with wisdom, you will run your highlighter dry if you are given to marking up books.

As we consider the One Anothers in our weekly sermons, I would encourage you to pick up a copy. A small investment in reading Life Together will pay big dividends on doing life together. Continue reading

One Anothering: How the Church Does Life Together

one another

 So we, though many, are one body in Christ,
and individually members one of another.
– Romans 12:5 –

There are in the New Testament roughly 100 places where the word ἀλλήλων, usually translated “one another,” is used. Beginning with Jesus’ command in John 13:34–35, the apostles develop a vision of church life that presses people of different backgrounds to follow Christ with one another. Using dozens of metaphors, they describe the church as as a body, a bride, a priesthood, a temple, a household, and a family.

In these word pictures, the One Another’s function as the imperatives that call brothers and sisters to get along in the Lord. Elbows and earlobes are called to honor one another in the body of Christ. Jews and Gentiles are taught they who were once divided are now united in the one new man, Jesus Christ.

Still before giving attention to the manifold imperative of loving one another, we must first realize that we are one of another. As Paul puts it in Romans 12:5, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Before we can love one another, forgive one another, or bear up one another, we must realize the One Another’s are set in the context of the local church. Continue reading

Life in Community: ‘The Roses and Lilies’ of the Christian Life

lifeWriting from Germany on the precipice of war, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a classic on Christian community. In Life Together he called attention the grace of Christian community, calling it “the ‘roses and lilies’ of the Christian life” (21).

In our country, where freedom to worship remains unchecked, his words provide a needed corrective to any laissez-faire attitude we may have towards biblical community. While church membership and attendance are generally affirmed by Christians, I don’t think we see how much grace there is in our ability to gather. By contrast, Bonhoeffer watched the Third Reich run over the church and the Church in turn to compromise with the state.

In such a context, he came to see just how much grace there is when brothers dwell together in unity—true spiritual unity. Consider his words and give thanks for the community of believers he has given you. May his words spur us on to press deeper into the life of our church, or to start such a community of spiritually-minded believers, if one is not present. Continue reading