June 2019 Newsletter - "Brotherhood" by Nathan Padilla

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The unity of the brethren is vital to the body of Christ, and modern churches today often take on a secular approach to unity.  What we may think will build unity is quite the opposite to the design that Yah has fashioned for our purpose.  In the book of Acts, the promise did not come until “they were all with one accord in one place,” [Acts_2:1].  What happened on Pentecost corresponds to what the Prophet David said concerning the brethren: “A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments,” [Psa_133:1-2].

When you start to break down the words in the Greek and Hebrew, you can start to see the symmetry that when the brethren are all are in one accord, the High Priestly anointing “runs down” from the head, Christ, to the body.  In the Hebrew “running down” is the word yarad (H3381), and it speaks of “to come down (of revelation).”  The Psalms is one of 15 psalms that are referring to an ascension, hence the psalm initiates with “A Song of Ascents.”  Moreover, looking into the word “ascent” in the Hebrew (H4609 ma’alah) it signifies “what comes up, thoughts; stories of heaven (first heaven, second heaven, third heaven 2Co_12:2), the three great pilgrim feasts: Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles.”  The brothers did not receive the promise until they united in their understanding, and they tarried together to ascend.  There is, in addition, a moral understanding of unity.  I remember hearing Pastor Mike saying, “We need to be praying for our next location.  As I was praying, I heard the Lord tell me that the place was of the Spirit’ it was being in one accord in an ‘upper room.’ In order to gather the great harvest this body needs to be of one mind, one body, one spirit.”

I recall to memory what the Father had shown me in my days working in animal rescue with grey hound dogs.  I was working in the yard where they would circulate the dogs in from their kennels to get some exercise and play around with the other dogs.  It was an enclosure that had no more than 10 dogs allowed, and there was this smaller enclosure that had two gates, one leading to the play yard and another from where the dogs were allowed in.  In that small enclosure, we’d take the leash off and put on their muzzles.  So, on this particular day there was a new guy at work taking the leashes off and putting the muzzles on and putting the dogs in the yard, and I was in the yard.  He forgot to take the leash off the dog and when he closed the gate, the leash went under the dog and pulled on its crotch, and the dog was yelping in agony.  All of a sudden, 10 docile dogs turned into savage beasts and immediately attacked the weak link.  I ran over to help, pushing dogs out of the way, and finally got to the dog yelping.  I had all these dogs chomping on the bit (mind you, they had on muzzles and the only thing that can fit through a muzzle is an ear lobe), and I had drool dripping and hot breath coming down the back of my neck and hearing the snap of K9 jaws trying to nip at my ears.  I initially go the dog loose, and what happened after was even more startling to me.  Just as quickly as they went into a frenzy, it was just as quick that they went back to being docile and peaceful like nothing had happened.  The Father showed me from that experience that this is exactly how the church is when they see someone in weakness, when someone is stumbling and falling short.  I have personally witnessed this in the church, unfortunately, several times.

The Apostle Paul instructs us: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” [Gal_6:1-2].  One of the things I have seen, especially in myself, is that we at times can have an unfair expectation of someone.  Areas where we are strong in, are not going to be the same strengths in others and may even seem to be impossible for them to achieve but for us, it is a strength, and we can look at their weakness and despise them for it.  Yes, let us be honest with ourselves; we have been guilty of this.  An Early Church Father further delves into this passage concisely.

For example, this man is irascible, you are dull-tempered; bear therefore with his vehemence that he in turn may bear with your sluggishness; and thus neither will he transgress, being supported by you, nor will you offend in the points where your defects lie, because of your brother's forbearing with you. So do you by reaching forth a hand one to another when about to fall, fulfil the Law in common, each completing what is wanting in his neighbor by his own endurance. But if you do not thus, but each of you will investigate the faults of his neighbor, nothing will ever be performed by you as it ought. For as in the case of the body, if one were to exact the same function from every member of it, the body could never consist, so must there be great strife among brethren if we were to require all things from all [1]

John Chrysostom is in harmony with what the Apostle Paul stated: “For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another],” [Rom 12:4-5 AMP].  No one should be despised for an area of weakness that we find in our brethren.  Fault finding will lead you to murder, for despising is the same as hatred, and as the Apostle John answers: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him,” [1Jo_3:15], and “If anyone says, I love God, and hates (detests, abominates) his brother [ in Christ], he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, Whom he has not seen,” [1Jo_4:20 AMP].  John also said that the love of God is keeping the commandments [1Jo_5:20].

I will alas leave you with an exhortation for a stalwart bond of the brotherhood by Cyprian.  When reading this excerpt, remember what Yahushua said concerning who would be the greatest “for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. ‘And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." [Mar_9:34-35].’”

Be cured by that whereby you had been wounded. Love those whom you previously had hated; favor those whom you envied with unjust disparagements. Imitate good men, if you are able to follow them; but it you are not able to follow them, at least rejoice with them, and congratulate those who are better than you. Make yourself a sharer with them in united love; make yourself their associate in the alliance of charity and the bond of brotherhood. Your debts shall be remitted to you when you yourself shall have forgiven. Your sacrifices shall be received when you shall come in peace to God. Your thoughts and deeds shall be directed from above, when you consider those things which are divine and righteous, as it is written: “Let the heart of a man consider righteous things, that his steps may be directed by the Lord.” (Pro_15:1, LXX)

18. And you have many things to consider. Think of paradise, whither Cain does not enter, who by jealousy slew his brother. Think of the heavenly kingdom, to which the Lord does not admit any but those who are of one heart and mind. Consider that those alone can be called sons of God who are peacemakers, who in heavenly birth and by the divine law are made one, and respond to the likeness of God the Father and of Christ. Consider that we are standing under the eyes of God, that we are pursuing the course of our conversation and our life, with God Himself looking on and judging, that we may then at length be able to attain to the result of beholding Him, if we now delight Him who sees us, by our actions, if we show ourselves worthy of His favor and indulgence; if we, who are always to please Him in His kingdom, previously please Him in the world.

1.     John Chrysostom - Homily on Galatians
2.     Cyprian - Treaties of Cyprian 10, Vol. 5