Anytime the subject comes up that I am an “only child,” I always see the smile, the rolled eyes, and the “oh, that explains it” thing. But, actually, something few people know is that I had a brother who was born in 1957 and died within a few minutes of birth. I think that event was far more devastating to my parents than I ever knew. A year and a half after that, I was born and when I barely made it, my parents decided they’d better hold what they got. Only child—physically. But two—emotionally and spiritually.
So, I will never know my brother—here. But it’s one of the reasons I feel God’s incredible redemption that my wife and I were blessed with two, yeah, two, healthy boys—now young men. That’s the set-up for today’s topic—brothers.
There are two types of brothers that we can experience.
The first one is blood. Family. The oddly interesting thing about blood brothers is that sometimes the blood makes for fierce loyalty and an indisputable connection, while others will literally hate each other. Then, of course, there’s the complacent brothers—“yeah, we talk some, see each other on Holidays—but close? No.”
Having a blood brother seems to bring no guarantee of what is produced between men with the same parents and last name. Even throughout Scripture, we see a mixed bag—from Cain and Abel, to Joseph’s clan that went from hatred to love, and Jesus’ relationship with his family that went from disbelief in a brother to faith in a Savior. It seems to come down to family dynamics, events that either pull apart or draw together, and personalities. The foundational fact about blood brothers is that we don’t get to choose them; they were chosen for us, but, at some point, we may have accepted the brotherhood. Or not.
The second type of brother is mud. Meaning a brother or brothers that we will get down in the mud of life with. Because we choose to. At some point, with a mud brother, we make a heart connection that few devices can sever. We will both soar to the heights and go to Hell and back for. Mud brothers are chosen, approved, and proven. Mud brothers don’t have to be asked if they’re in. You know they are.
As a Christian, there is a Biblical responsibility, whether a blood brother is a believer or not, whether he is older or younger, that we need to be as much Jesus as we can possibly be to him. The blood means God decided in His sovereignty and wisdom to create and place you in the same family. That’s an automatic accountability to be available, regardless of the brother’s choices.
As a Christian, mud brothers take on a crucial role. Playing offense to help each other mature and grow in Christ’s image and also to play defense to fight back to back against the enemy of our souls. Mud brothers to a Christian man can, quite literally, make the difference in victory and defeat. Walking the faith journey with mud brothers is one of God’s great gifts to us.
Regardless of your list of blood and mud brothers, as Christ followers, there is a blood that flows equally in both relationships and supersedes any other. There is a family that overarches all others. The blood of Christ flows through our spirits and brings us together. The family of God connects our hearts and unites us. Blood or mud—one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. —Ephesians 4:4-6 MSG