“To sum up, let all be…brotherly…” (1 Pet. 3:8; NASB)
In the past couple of decades a new kind of profession has developed. This professional is,
“a blend of consultant, motivator, therapist, manager, and friend. Who are these people? Personal coaches, who help people ‘define and achieve their goals — career, personal, or both.’ Coaches enjoy a uniquely portable profession — all they need is a phone. They also enjoy a lucrative profession, with fees ranging from $150 to $500 a month per client for once-a-week, half-hour phone conversations. A successful coach can earn a six-figure income.
“One client summed up the role of his coach like this: ‘I didn’t have anyone to answer to. There was no one keeping me focused. [A coach] is like having a friend to bounce things off of that has my best interests in mind.’
“Declares coach and coach trainer Thomas Leonard, ‘We’re not selling coaching services. We’re selling a partnership in someone’s life.” [So reported Newsweek a few years ago.]
The tragedy of this story is so obvious — people are having to pay for relationships, when those relationships can be enjoyed to the full “for free.”
The church is the place where such relationships abound in number. The consistent picture in the New Testament about relationships in the church is that they are of a family nature: mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. In fact, every NT book uses the word “brother” to denote the primary relationship in the church family (except Jude, which uses the word “beloved” — another family term — four times).
So closely related are believers in Jesus Christ that we are more closely aligned to our spiritual brothers than our physical brothers, if our blood brother is not a believer.
In an interesting summary, as Peter concludes his discussion of the duties of wives to husbands (1 Pt. 3:1-6) and husbands to wives (v. 7), one of the words he uses to indicate the broad nature of the marital relationship is that it is to be “brotherly.” He certainly is talking about more than just marital relationships, as he is likely summarizing all of what he has said in chapters two and three about relationships, but he is certainly also including the marital relationship.
What does he mean by “brotherly?” The term means that we have the tremendous opportunity for intimacy and closeness of fellowship and kinship with our brothers and sisters in Christ that cannot be known anywhere else. It also means that like our physical brothers, we are to be diligent in protecting and keeping these relationships, for they are permanent. They are neither temporary nor to be discarded in a time of disagreement.
It is striking who the NT writers call “brothers:” Quartus (Rom. 16:23), Tychicus (Col. 4:7), Onesimus (Col. 4:9), Silvanus (1 Pet. 5:12), and an unnamed man who was of help to the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 8:18, 22; 12:18). These are hardly household names to us. We know very little, if anything about these men. Yet God in writing the NT viewed them as indispensable to the church. The value of a relationship is not in how “important” someone is, but that they are in the body of Christ. That alone gives them value and deems a relationship with them to be significant and important.
So when we relate to one another as brothers, we love each other, we love each other on the basis of relationship rather than status (i.e., what we might derive from and how we might personally benefit from the relationship), we care for one another, we are accepting of one another, we are committed to one another, and we prioritize each other.
This is the brotherhood of believers — and it surpasses any kind of fellowship offered by the world system.
“The Christian life is not meant to be lived privately in isolation from other believers. It is to be lived as members of the Body of Christ. God wants to use our times of adversity to deepen our relationship with other members of the Body — to create a greater sense of sharing together the life we have in Christ.” [Bridges, Trusting God.]