What Is Brotherly Affection?

“One day David asked, ‘Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive – anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” (2 Samuel 9:1 NLT)

Saul, who was Israel’s first king, had a son named Jonathan. Jonathan was in line to become king upon his father’s death, but he recognized that he was not God’s choice. David was. Still, he and David became friends, in much the same way as what Peter was seeking to illustrate in his 2nd letter. David and Jonathan became a picture of what brotherly affection should look like.

The word that Peter used in 2 Peter 1:7 is the Greek word “fil-ad-el-fee’-ah” (Philadelphia), which is often translated “love” or “brotherly love.” It’s far more than a mere acquaintance or even a deep friendship, it’s a relationship characterized by deep trust and commitment. It’s the kind of relationship that developed among the original disciples and those who became part of the early church.

Fueled by the Holy Spirit’s infilling, they became selfless and Christ-centered. Their concern wasn’t simply for themselves, but for their new eternal family and for those they were commissioned to reach. We see what this kind of love looked like in Acts 2: “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Later in the chapter it speaks to some practical implications of their love for one another, and the environment that resulted.

“Reverence and Awe” “Used by permission, © Ray Majoran, GlimpseOfInfinity.com

“A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

What can we learn from these first century believers? First, they were devoted – to Jesus, the Apostles, and to each other. There’s a lesson here for us. If our devotion to Jesus stops with us, we have no real devotion to Jesus. A closed, selfish heart does not a Christ follower make! So, lesson one – love within the Body of Christ must be Christ-centered and selfless. Devotion to Christ equals devotion to His Body, the Church.

To claim allegiance to Christ and yet close yourself off from His eternal family is a contradiction. Say it with me – Body of  – whom? Body of random people? Body of friendly, really nice people? No, it’s not about the people themselves. So, who’s it about? The Body of CHRIST! On some levels the presence of God on earth is no less significant as He’s seen in His Body, the Church, as it was as seen in His Son’s body when He walked the pathways of this earth.

There’s a sense in which Christ = His Church! At least that’s how it should be and, I believe still is in many parts of our world. We, as His children on earth, exist to do His bidding. We exist to love each other within His eternal family. Why is that so critical? Because, according to Jesus, our love and devotion to one another is designed to paint a picture of the unity that exists in the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

A family that prays together stays together. But another way to think of it is a family who serves together sticks together! What’s my point?  A fighting, malicious, venomous family isn’t giving the light of Christ, but the darkness of the enemy, and should repent or close their doors. They’re doing more harm than good.

To the extent we pray and “stick” together as members of His Body, the Church, to that extent we’ll see His Kingdom expanded. And by “together” I’m not just referring to people in a local church, though that’s a good start. I’m referring to reaching across racial, ethnic, denominational barriers and theological differences to work together to serve our cities and communities with the love of Christ.

There’s so much more we can do together than any of us can do as a single church body. The key is, we can’t care who gets the credit, except Jesus! That’s what the Bible means by “brotherly affection.”

Blessings, Ed 😊

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