We’ve been covering some of the one another commands for the exhortations lately and today’s comes from Romans 12:10 where Paul says: “Love one another with brotherly affection.” Whenever I hear the phrase ‘brotherly affection’ I usually don’t think much of it at first. I breeze right over it thinking, “okay, Paul is telling us to love one another with a general familial affection.” And if that’s all that this phrase meant, this exhortation would be pretty bland, something like “remember to love each other like family.”
But this brotherly affection is actually much deeper. As Christians, our relationships with each other, in Christ, are stronger and more eternal than with even our own biological families. Jesus makes this point in Mark 3 when his mother and brothers are looking for him and he says, “who are my mother and my brothers… whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and my mother.” There’s a lot we could unpack here, but part of what that Jesus is saying is that his relationship, his bond, with those who obey God is deeper and more real than even his bond with his own biological family.
Now, one of the reasons Jesus came to earth and was born into a biological family was in order to establish a deeper spiritual family. But these families are not fundamentally in opposition. And because Jesus was born into an earthly family, that confirms how important our earthly families are. Certainly, there are challenges with our family due to sin, and some of us have even had outright fights or been disowned from them. What gives us hope in these situations is that Jesus cares about our earthly family, even more than we do. And he who brought reconciliation in the spiritual family can bring reconciliation in our earthly families.
So for as real, and as good, as and important as our earthly, biological families are; our spiritual family is even better. Jesus’ blood runs deeper. In fact, Jesus died so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. While we were still sinners and not family, Jesus died for us so that we could be adopted by the Father and become Jesus’ brothers and sisters. So whether you have a great relationship with your biological family, or a difficult one, or it’s somewhere in between; know that through Jesus you belong to a family that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
And now we’re back to Romans 12:10. Except now it doesn’t seem so bland, and it turns out it was a great exhortation for us all along. So the exhortation is for us to love one another with brotherly affection. All of us at Redeemer church are the immediate family members of the bigger, spiritual family. This command, to love one another with brotherly affection is intimate and personal. Brotherly affection is full of joy and laughter and belonging, and it requires knowing each other and spending time together. There’s much more we could say, but this is how Jesus loves us and as the firstborn brother he has shown us how to love one another.