Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tolerance and Spiritual Family

If you’re a church goer, definitely you’ll hear the word brother, sister, and brethren. After all, John 1:12 have mentioned that those who received Jesus Christ were given power to become the sons of God (even to them that believe on His name). Since our fellow believers are considered our spiritual brothers/sisters, one will never take away these words: spiritual family. Once a person admitted his sins and repented from them, and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he became part of the family of God.

Now, let’s focus on the word “family”. Let’s put this in our biological family. Typically, and especially for single guys and gals, our family’s house is also our house (There are single guys and gals who decided to move out, but that’s another story. Let’s not be foolish on that one if you know what I mean. I know you’re better than that if you’re ever planning of doing so). Normally, you’ll not be arrested for trespassing once you entered in your own house. After all, you’re part of that family, so their house is your house.

In a real world, some typical families will have what we call “black sheep”. He’s the one who is giving his family one headache after the other (with varying degrees). However, despite that black sheep’s shortcoming, we’ll accept him with open arms. Yes, we’ll definitely get angry, but we’ll definitely help him to get out of the mess that he made. Love and the “we-have-no-choice” principle will definitely take its place. In spite of our biological brother’s shortcoming, we have no choice but help him bounce back. Oh yes, you may say that there came to a point that you gave up, but the point is the reason why you gave up is because you helped him numerous times BEFORE because BECAUSE HE’S YOUR BROTHER.

A typical family will deal delicate matters privately. When a family member committed something wrong (unwanted pregnancy, drug dependency, alcoholism, etc), either one of two things will happen: either you rebuke or remind that family member, then try to help him get out or solve the mess OR you’ll cover up every bad deed to the point that you’ll talk to the offended party. Since you’re a family member, you’ll do your best to negotiate.

A typical family has a set of rules that, once it’s not followed, will be either warned or be given discipline. The father or mother will impose it on a family that did something wrong. However, a loving father/mother doesn’t desire to spank or “ground” or deprive things from his kid because he did something wrong (like a crazy person). However, because a family member did something wrong, the father or mother has no choice but to do it in order for his children to have a positive direction.


Now, what about spiritual family? Why we’re so sensitive in a brother’s style of jokes or how he led the song in the church while you’re more tolerant with your unbelieving/chosen sets of friends, despite their bad joke? Why so quick the judgment? Haven’t you realized that it’s shallow? Oh yes, we can hide it under the guise of “open rebuke”. We can say that we need to implement things. Still, the bottomline? You plainly don’t like the person. You never treated him as family, though you’re both part of the spiritual family.

Let’s set aside the words “different levels of spiritual maturity” as justification for awhile.

We tend to set the level of tolerance to our spiritual brethren so low, especially if we don’t like the person, but set the level of rules so high to them. We expect too much to our spiritual family. In my personal opinion, if you really treat him as part of the family, yes, there are house rules, but our tolerance must be there.

For Christian single guys and gals, we tend to set so many rules and expectations that, when this was not met, will accuse those Christian guys and gals words like “cheater”, “playboy”, “”two-timer”, “user”. We’ll start to generalize especially Christian guys and begin to think that there are unbelievers who are nicer than them (lame argument). The ironic part is this: more often than not, we never throw those same words to our unbelieving friends. We tend to just let pass our unbelieving friends’ blunders, yet cannot move on when a fellow brother committed sins (worst, you were not directly affected at times).

Many times, we misused the verse “open rebuke is better than secret love” if we wanted to rebuke a fellow church member that we dislike, hiding it under the cloak “open rebuke”. (Note: A person, especially the old timers, should not forget that the sentence construction of that verse is comparative by nature. That verse is never ever applicable if you never love or like that fellow church member in the first place. Thus, the next time you wanted to rebuke a fellow church member that you dislike, think twice before using that Bible verse. Rebuking someone out of dislike or hatred to the person itself and not because you wanted to help IS SO WRONG AND IS WORTHY OF OPEN REBUKE ITSELF).

Yes, there are many opinions, strong answers regarding this one. It may be a strong agreement or a strong disagreement. It may be on a theological standpoint, it may be on the grammatical or textual viewpoint. When this post is either agreed or disagreed, liked or unliked (is there a word, I forgot my grammar or vocabulary), the post’s objective was fulfilled. Reaction or reply is a sign that we still think things through…that we still think.

Still, at the end of the day, I hope that this post will make us think through regarding the words “brother”, “sister”, “brethren”, and “spiritual brother/sister/family”. This is never meant to insist, but is meant to make a fellow brother and sister think through.

Thank you very much for reading.

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