Seeing my three sons sing psalms and hymns to God in corporate worship is among the greatest joys that I have experienced as a parent. When my oldest son sings out loudly in worship, his brothers tend to follow his lead. If one of my sons sees his older brother singing God’s praises, he is encouraged to do so as well. This is precisely how things work in the divine family. Jesus leads His brethren in singing the praises of God, stirring them up to praise Him for His redemptive mercy and grace. Edmund Clowney captured the essence of Jesus leading us in worship when he wrote:
Jesus is the sweet singer of Israel, the choirmaster of heaven. He is not ashamed to call us brethren, but sings in the midst of His assembled saints in the heavenly Zion and on earth where two or three are gathered in His name. . . . What songs of agony Christ sings—the psalms of His suffering that sealed salvation! Listen, and learn of Him hymns that know the fellowship of His sufferings, hymns that can come from a cross, or rise from a prison cell at midnight. The singing Savior does not lead songs modeled on sugary commercials . . . sterner, stronger, deeper, His songs carry us through the valley of the shadow of death.
As our Elder Brother, Jesus stands as the head of a new, redeemed community of men and women, boys and girls who are united to Him by faith alone. Because of our inseparable union with Christ, we are now inseparably united to one another. What is true of our relationship with the Son has an unequaled bearing on our relationship with other believers. We live together with other believers in light of our mutual adoption. The way in which Christ leads us forward in spiritual worship structures the way in which we help one another worship. Our Elder Brother has loved us and has given Himself for us. This, in turn, animates the way in which we are to love one another as members of His body.
The key to our loving other believers with brotherly love is to train ourselves to think properly about the other members of the family of God. God calls us to view each and every believer as one “for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11). In Christ, God has laid down His life for the brethren. We, too, are to lay down our lives for one another. Jesus has patiently born with us. We, too, are to bear with one another in love. Jesus has died to forgive us of our sins. We, too, are to forgive one another. Jesus continues to build us up in the truth. We, too, are to build one another up in the truth. Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us. We, too, are to intercede for one another. Jesus has given us every provision for our lives in this world and in the world to come. We, too, are to share our provisions and lives with one another both now and for all of eternity.
Sadly, this is not always witnessed in our relationships with other believers. All too often, we tend to treat other believers with everything from sinful partiality and favoritism to bitter coldness and censoriousness. Just as there is nothing so heartbreaking in this fallen world as brothers treating one another with disdain or indifference, there is nothing so unfitting as seeing brethren in the church treat one another with loveless indifference.
In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis included a profound meditation on how we should view the weakest believers in the church on account of their adoption into God’s family. He wrote, “The dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.” Because of the resurrection glory of Jesus, there is a glory awaiting every son and daughter of God (Rom. 8:19). What we now see when we look at one another is far from what we will see when we behold each other in glory.
These truths ought to have the greatest impact on our interactions with other believers in this life. What a difference it would make if we would learn to view one another through the lens of our union with our glorified Elder Brother. How many arguments would we avoid if we acted in accord with these truths? How much sinful ambition would we put at bay if we trained ourselves to think this way about one another? How much love and care would we manifest among those in the body if we consistently sought to apply this principle to all of our interactions with all other believers? How much patience and deference would stronger brothers show to weaker brothers if we imbibed this principle? How much mutual prayer would we offer to God for one another if we adopted this mind-set? How often would we ask for and extend forgiveness to one another if we truly believed these things?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 4, 2019.