Living As Brothers And Sisters

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.        Psalm 133 (The Message)

Lectionary texts for August 17: Genesis 45:1-15, Psalm 133, Romans 11:1-2, 29-32, Matthew 15:10-28

When I was a child growing up, I had cousins and friends with big families. By that I mean, there were at least five children in the family and compared to our home, theirs was a noisy, never-a-dull-moment place. One of my friends who came from such a family is still a close friend and says she loved to come to my house because “it was so wonderfully quiet!”

This psalm is often used to admonish us as Believers to work together and get along as brothers and sisters working in God’s Kingdom. But I wonder if we all understand what it means to get along as brothers and sisters.

Big families. If we read the genealogies (some of my favorite passages!) and stories in the Bible, we know that most families had many children. Certainly kings needed large families to help them maintain control of their kingdoms through marriage and sons who would maintain the bloodline. Large families also worked together to maintain the crops and livestock.

Live together. Unlike today’s families who may live thousands of miles apart, most families in biblical times lived in the same “camp” or within a day’s travel of each other. They often married cousins or marriages were arranged between families who had known each other all their lives.

Care for each other. The word “care” here is used in a much more active way than we might think. The way families cared for each other was with a communal spirit. If someone became ill, the rest of the family took over their jobs, cooked for them and whatever else was needed. They worshiped together as they all believed in Yahweh and followed the Law of Moses.

As a Family of Believers, we have much to change if we are to truly be a family. To come together and work in unity, we must stop our petty bickering. We must have respect and obedience for our Father and stop considering our needs before others.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.                  Philippians 2:1-8 (The Message)

Can we agree that God is our Father and Jesus our Savior? And the rest of it – as Paul says, we will have that made clear to us someday (Philippians 3:15). This world needs us as God’s hands and feet. More and more people are realizing that they cannot “handle” the problems which come into their lives. The self-help books, education, money and whatever else they think to lean on isn’t working. The fields are ripe with harvest and it’s time to bring it in to the LORD. We must work together, brothers and sisters, in unity by the power of His Spirit.

Put Your Hand in the Hand written by Gene MacLellan & sung by Ocean

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