Now that we have been saved by God, why does He keep us here in the world for a little longer, instead of taking us to be with Him? Wouldn’t it be better to be immediately glorified after being justified, and brought into His presence? Why does He keep us here and command us to join other believers, whom we struggle to love and get along with as a family?
God, by His mercies, has saved us and made us His children. We have been born into the household of faith through adoption as sons. The title ‘sons’ is to make us aware of our identity in Christ since during the old time sons were educated and inherited property, showing their esteemed position. We are the beloved of God. Together he has made us into a church. While we roam on this earth, this is the family we identify with. It is no wonder the new testament is full of ‘one another’ exhortations.
…be at peace with each other, love one another, be devoted to one another in brotherly love, stop passing judgment on one another, instruct one another, serve one another in love, carry each other’s burdens, forgiving each other, speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, in humility consider others better than yourselves, do not lie to each other, build each other up, and each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others are some of the ‘one another’ verses in the Bible.
The Christian life cannot be lived individually. In many ways, it is a community made up of saved sinners who are imperfect but striving together towards perfection in Christ. God has ordained that the church plays roles like encouraging, rebuking, and correcting in the Christian’s life in order to be presented blameless to God. In essence, every Christian thrives more while in a Christian community.
Hebrews 13:1 exhorts us to continue in brotherly love. In the earlier chapters the writer endeavors to show Christ the great high priest, how we shouldn’t neglect the gathering together of believers, exhorts believers to encourage one another towards love and good deeds, emphasizes on the importance of the believers running the race with perseverance, and now in chapter 13 encourages us to continue in brotherly love.
Brotherly love would take the shape of sibling love. There is a more deliberate pursuing of love and unity among siblings that result from the knowledge that they are a family despite the differences that might be existent. Believers are called to this kind of deliberate love that is not conditional but stems from the realization that we have been born into the family of God. It is not a kind of love that chooses who we like and discard those we don’t like. Like siblings in the same family, so is this Church that Christ bought and is keeping for Himself. This love transcends the social-economical grading, and even generations and genders as Paul’s notes in 1st Timothy 5:2; Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. It is a deliberate decision to esteem the saints as though they were blood relatives because they are in Christ.
So then the church is to be a place where the saints never feel or face rejection. This is why we should be deliberate so that none of the redeemed around us feels like a stranger. God alone has the power to bring people into the household of faith. We should by no means reject our siblings in the faith or make them feel unwelcome. In fact, we are to go out of our way to recognize the loner and make them part of us.
It is the duty of believers, particularly those in the same local church, to look out for each other, care for each others’ souls, go out of their way and inconvenience themselves for the sake of others. Ultimately, our goal is to exalt Christ through the unity we display to the unbelieving world. By striving towards brotherly love we recognize our inadequacy and utilize the means of grace of fellowship that Christ has ordained to help us in our walk with Him, and enable us to safely arrive home. Our pursuit of holiness is a community project, and that’s why neglecting the meeting together of believers, not taking part in the means of grace and failure to practice brotherly love and kindness is trampling upon God’s means of sanctification for us.
So then, why did God choose not to take us home immediately after saving us? Jesus’ words in John 13:35 (“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ) gives us a reason. In loving one another we point back to The author, perfecter, and captain of our faith, by saying and showing we are His and we do all that He says. In other words, we are His disciples, thus glorifying Him; we are in the world to glorify Him.
This is His commandment – love one another. It is the essence of the Christian faith, a still more excellent way because it is the way of our Master. Let brotherly love continue!