God’s special love and concern for the church is evident in his expectation, indeed his command, that those who comprise the church have a family relationship with each other and responsibility for each other.

In Matthew 12:48-50 Jesus taught that those who do the will of his Father are his family – his brother, his sister, his mother. This places those who believe in him into a family relationship.

In addition, the term ‘brother’ is used in some instances in the New Testament to refer to fellow members of the church. It is not always clear when this is the case – sometimes it refers to biological brothers or to our fellow humans - but it appears to specifically refer to our fellow believers, who with us are the brothers of Christ, in the following contexts:

As we will see over the next few weeks this love and concern for the Christian ‘brother’ is in addition to, and transcends, the love that Christians are to have for ‘the world’. This ought not to offend us or make us fear any accusations that we are ‘discriminating’ against the world, for it does not negate God’s command to love both our neighbour and our enemies. Indeed, it is this special love and concern within the church family that will powerfully impact the watching world.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009