Hermanos en Cristo
And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. Acts 20
What a tender scene unfolds before our eyes as the Apostle bids farewell to his church family in Asia, knowing they would never meet again this side of heaven. The imagery is vivid, “they all wept freely,” and brings to mind a final farewell between a mother and child or a father sending a son off to war. “Fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him.” What emotional bond would provoke such an outpouring of sincere affection? When did we lose those feelings for each other, the close bond that would produce such a display of affection? What are we missing?
We frequently refer to each other as "Brother Smith" or "Sister Jones," but how deeply do our feelings run for those with whom we share a pew, a handshake, or even a hug? Scripture teaches us to join together in emotional support of each other, in both joy and
sorrow: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” Rom 12. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” Gal 6:2.
We go by different names. We’ve got Smith’s, Jones’s, and Johnson’s, but we are members of the same family, and the last name of that greater family is Christian! You see, we are named after the one through whom we were adopted, Christ: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself” Eph. 1:4-5. You and I are members of a family, the family of God. "The one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family."
Wherever Paul travelled throughout the lands, there was his Christian family to embrace and welcome him. And they held true deep affection for each other! When we travel, we share the same brotherhood while we visit the saints in that location. As a Christian, I’ve lived in seven cities and four states. The church in each place, on the very first visit, made me feel like a member of their family. I’ve travelled thousands of miles, to both coasts, to foreign lands, and there has always been a Christian family to embrace and welcome me. Not people full of superficial pleasantries… rather people with whom I share a strong spiritual emotional tie, though we may never have met. I was immediately embraced and welcomed… just like Paul. And I feel the same about them! On the island of Bermuda, there are no rental cars, so the ride to church is by taxi. We have always been greeted by our church family, as we stepped out of the vehicle. On each visit, our Bermudian brothers have sent the driver away saying, “You need not return for these people, for they belong to us.” You see, after Sunday services, a couple from the church has always driven us in their own car back to our hotel. Something a family would do.
“ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13
I recently was honored to be the photographer for the wedding of Tatiana and Ben Taylor. Early on, I found myself alone with Tatiana’s father, Pedro Almestor Chumbes, a kind gentleman. I wanted to speak to him; he wanted to talk with me. Quickly it became apparent that my few words of pigeon Spanish and his “un poco” English presented a barrier between us. We had reached an impasse, until he smiled and spoke these words: “Hermanos en Christo!!!”… BROTHERS in CHRIST! It said all we needed to say, for in that instant I knew him, and he knew me. It’s a feeling better felt than told. We shared an embrace and in the joy of my brother’s family at the wedding of his lovely daughter. And we shared in our newly felt bond with each other. We are family still, though he speaks another language and lives far, far away.
I teach a bible class and often great the folks seated before me with a hearty, “good morning Christian family!” You may think that I’m just trying to be cute, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. However, some, many of you, hopefully most of you, deeply feel what I am saying. “It is good to be with my church family once again!” If you don’t feel that family spirit, that emotion, then meditate and pray on this, brother, for you are missing out! Take a moment and read the lyrics to the hymn, Blest Be the Tie That Binds by John Fawcett. It frames this thought better than I.
- Danny Pickett