Love as brothers (1 Peter 3:18).
i grew up with two brothers. roger is just eleven months younger than me and we were painfully close as children. we’re still close as adults, but we’ve become quite different. roger loves living in the county and growing things. i prefer a more urban setting and would be happy if i never again had to mow. we have divergent views on piety, preferences and politics.
but there is no one i’d rather spend time with.
gary was four years younger than me and the funniest human i’ve ever known. he was an addict and his disease finally killed him ten years ago (i related his story in this space some time back), although it is unfair to characterize him by his addiction. gary was a generous and complex man. during the last few years of gary’s life, i served as his primary caregiver. i recall one time when the police called me to pick gary up an bring him back home. he had gotten himself intoxicated and was hanging out at 7-11 making the clerks nervous. as i was helping him to my car, a lady walked out of the store and gave my brother a withering look. i almost lost my temper and told her what she could do with her condescending attitude. i knew my brother had a problem, but he was still my brother.
i confess that i love most of the people in my church, but i probably do not love them as brothers (and sisters), and the lord has been dealing with me about that. i think most of us (the church) are a little glib when it comes to really loving each other. we have may degrees of love. we are selective about who we love and we are okay with that.
that is not loving as brothers. brothers love each other no matter what.
one of my biggest personal issues raises its ugly head when it comes to loving my brothers in the ministry. some of my colleagues are mindless buffoons. others hide their self-centeredness behind a cloak of ambition. i know painfully few preachers who are truly humble. truthfully, i fight feelings of disdain toward many of them. i would tell them that i love them and, in a convoluted way, i do love them on some level, but i do not love them as brothers.
and i must. not for them, for me.
i can’t help but wonder if unchurched people don’t see our charade. i wonder if they evaluate our pseudo-love toward one another and judge the church (rightfully so!) based on our hypocrisy. perhaps they have chosen to avoid the church because we love (according to our own myopic perspective) but not as brothers. we say things like, “i love you with the love of jesus” and “you don’t have to like somebody to love them.” we are so arrogant!
jesus said, “as i have loved you so you must love one another” (john 13:35). not a whole lot of wiggle room there.
what are we gonna’ do?