Treating the “Other” as Brother and Sister

What does it mean to be the church? The New Testament employs a variety of images. Sometimes the church is described like a building, a temple. The church is compared to a holy nation of priests. The church is depicted as a body in which every person is a vital member.

But the language and label of family is the one that dominates. The church is more than a crew or club, a group or gang. We are not a political party or social society. We are family, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, created and claimed for adoption by God the Father.If the church universal, the family of God, could just embrace and embody that, the implications would be indescribable.

Still, while learning to love those closest to us is often where we start, it can never be where we stop. If we close the circle of affection to only those who are one of us, those who are like us, that is no different than the base form of love found everywhere in the world (Mt. 5:46-47). When we wall off our compassion, we miss Jesus when he arrives as one who is hungry, thirsty, sick, a stranger, in prison, in need of clothes. Christ compels us to love the “other” as if they were brother and sister. I’m reminded of these wonderful lyrics from O, Holy Night.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Jesus has opened our eyes. The “other” is our brother and sister. That reality should change everything.

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