“My brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier” (Philippians 2:25). There probably is no closer relationship one has than with one who can be described like that. Proverbs 18:24 says, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Our relationship with our biological brothers and sisters is special, but even more special are those friends who have stood with us through difficult and dangerous times. Epaphroditus gained Paul’s love and respect as one who joined him in service to God as a fellow worker and fellow soldier who, “for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me” (Philippians 2:30).
Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coasties who defended our nation have formed bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood with those they fought beside. They all deserve to be honored and celebrated. In the same way that the experience of military service forms long-lasting friendships, our labor together as fellow believers for the kingdom of God should unite us in mutual respect and love. We are literally brothers and sisters in Christ. We are truly fellow workers and fellow soldiers of the Lord.
I regret that the term “brother” or “sister” in many of our churches is rarely used except as a title for the pastor. I remember when, at least while at church, we called each other that. “Good morning brother John.” “Well, good morning sister Mary.” “It is good to see you sister Mary and all our brothers and sisters here in worship this morning.” I miss those days when we were not ashamed to address each other with that loving acknowledgment of our relationship in Jesus.
Calling each other brother or sister is more than just a title. It is a reminder that we are fellow workers and fellow soldiers. One day Jesus was talking to a crowd of people when His mother and biological brothers arrived to speak with Him. When He was informed they were waiting to see Him, Jesus said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” What? Jesus answers His own question with an eye-opening, jaw-dropping answer. “He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:49-50).
Perhaps it is not terribly important that we address our fellow believers as brothers or sisters. It is, however, extremely important that we support, affirm, encourage, and honor each other as we walk beside each other in service to our Lord in such a way that we are closer to each other than any other relationship. Our union has eternal consequences. Our service together is a divine calling. Our love for our Lord supersedes all other commitments. We are not just church members. We are family. We are His family.