We, as brothers in Christ, are described by God’s holy word as soldiers. Why then do we not form the same attachments and close brotherhood experienced by ordinary soldiers of the world? Why doesn’t the battle that Jesus calls us to result in the same “band of brothers” closeness those worldly wars produce? Is it a matter of focus and commitment or is it apathy and indifference? Does the world spread us too thin or has selfishness made our skin too thick, unable to feel all that our deepest need longs to touch? Are we ignorant of the battle that rages around us or are we too wounded to care anymore? Do we fight for ourselves or for something or someone outside ourselves? The answers to these questions will actually determine, even in the midst of the madness and mayhem, whether we have already won or whether we have already lost. The following verses may give us a clue:
Do not owe anyone anything-except to love one another. For the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Now that you have obeyed the truth and have purified your souls to love your brothers sincerely, you must love one another intensely and with a pure heart.
Show honor to everyone. Keep on loving the brothers, fearing God, and honoring the king.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; and everyone that loves has been born of God and knows God.
No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
Honor everyone. Love your brothers. Fear God.
A new commandment I give to you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said to them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master, and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Jn 13:12 - 15
Be affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for me to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
Brotherly love is an amazing thing. It is taught by God and it comes directly from His heart to ours. When we love our brothers we display the proof that God abides in our hearts. When we love our brothers, God actually perfects that love through our loving. When we sincerely love our brothers we purify our souls. This brotherly love is to be intense and to proceed from a pure heart. When we obey God and love our brothers as He has asked us to love them; when we fear God and allow our brotherly love to flow freely from that holy fear, our hearts are transformed and we are able to love with a love so intense that the love itself is transforming. And finally, this love is to be honoring. It is a love that lifts up and declares as special and worthy the object of that love. In other words, we love our brothers with the same intensity and purity in which we love Christ.
Honoring our brothers by loving them and loving our brothers by honoring them; this is the holy formula for creating an indestructible “company of soldiers”. And one of the Bible’s greatest examples of this kind of intense and honoring love is found in 2 Samuel:
"And three of the thirty of David’s mighty men went down, and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in his stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David longed, and said, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” And the three mighty men fought through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD. And he said, be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it."
2Sa 23:13 - 17
When I first began to read this story I thought, “Wow, David’s men really loved and honored him. What an amazing sacrifice.” Even though these were truly “mighty men” and earlier in the chapter it is recorded that these three men on three separate occasions killed over one thousand Philistines between them; still, it is an amazing act of love and devotion. At the risk of their lives they fight their way through an armed camp to fulfill the wishes of someone they love and respect. There is no way that David could top this! Or is there?
David is amazed and honored. However, he refuses to drink the water. At first you might think, “Boy, his men must feel pretty dishonored.” After all, they risked their lives for this water and he won’t even drink it! However, David doesn’t dishonor them but rather gives them the greatest honor. In essence, he tells them, “What you have done for me is amazing. It is so amazing in fact and your sacrifice on my behalf is so great that you have made this cup of water one of priceless worth. It is so priceless and special now that there is only one who is worthy to drink from it. And it isn’t me.” And then offering it to the only one who is worthy, he pours it out before the Lord.
Loving and honoring one another. There is no greater way to knit a group of people together…no better way to create an eternal brotherly bond. And there is no better way to begin this process than by honoring the work of God in one another. And there is no other way to discover what that work is than by sharing our lives with one another. You cannot honor and love someone from a distance. Neither can you truly come to know them. These are face to face relationships. It is in intimate settings and gatherings (whether in the church through Sunday School classes or small groups, in one another’s homes or even sitting around a campfire in the woods) that we can not only learn with each other but learn of each other. As brothers in Christ and workers for His kingdom; these gatherings are not only excellent opportunities to gain this knowledge, they are essential if we wish to honor the work that God has appointed to each one of us. As we grow in knowledge of one another, we grow in brotherly love. As we grow in love, we grow in acts of sacrifice and honor. And it is in this place where the holy love of God is flowing back and forth freely between one another that the unbreakable, indestructible bond begins to form. This is the holy ground and divine garden where miracles are grown…where out of a tangle of disparate personalities of selfish desires and personal pursuits God forms a company of soldiers eager to storm the gates of hell and set the captives free. Soldiers ready to fight with and for each other; to fight back to back and shoulder to shoulder; as hard as they can for as long as it takes. Because we are: “A Band of Brothers.”
* * * * * * * * *
A Band of Brothers
Oh, to be a band of brothers
Willing to battle through
The Philistines of this world
To slake each other’s thirst
Like David’s mighty men
Oh, to be a band of brothers
Who would in holy friendship
Be willing to lend for battle
Their sword and bow and belt
As Jonathan did for David
Oh, to be a band of brothers
Who would not walk by one another
But would walk with one another
Who would without contemplation
Readily offer strength for another’s weakness
Who would be willing Samaritans
And in mercy carry a world-wounded brother
To the healing inn of Christ’s love whatever the cost
Who would stand against the tide with one another
Would walk the long red road with one another
Fellow soldiers who would stand faithfully
To battle with and for one another
Absorbing tears without ridicule
Hearing confessions without judgment
Offering aid without hesitation