Abiding in Fellowship
My brother recently graduated from college. He has finally moved on with his life, married, working two jobs, and living ministry. This is the first time that we have officially been separated. Granted, we have almost a four year age difference, we have still always been with each other. We spent one year in the same high school, and even when he was gone for college, there was always a holiday on the horizon that we would see each other. Then when he moved out of the house, got married, he still had another year left in his undergrad and so we went to the same school once again.
While being together, we have great discussions. We would wake up early on Saturday mornings and go play a round of disc golf (God’s chosen sporting event) and have great discussions that varied from who Melchizedek was to should all Greek professors be ministers first. Although he does not know this, those mornings were my favorite part of my first year of undergrad and what I learned are things that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
One of the most important things that we discussed, that we recently revisited in a phone conversation, is the subject of inerrancy of Scripture. It was fueled by a conversation with another friend I had on my hall last year where he questioned something that I had always assumed. As a young Christian, even before the Lord picked me out, I questioned the validity in our English manuscripts of the Bible and whether or not we could trust them, but never did I really question the original Greek or Hebrew texts and their inspired validity.
I brought this question to my brother and he did what a good brother in Christ should do: encourage, challenge, and convict.
My brother could tell I was in distress about inerrancy. I am the type of person that needs to know the answers to everything. I would not be a Christian if there were not answers to the tough questions of faith. If I can’t see the Bible as a valid document that is trustworthy, why should I ever trust what it says? If there was not a clear answer to the inerrancy of Scripture, why should I be Christian? Why am I going to school to ministry? Why have I wasted five years of my life? My brother took the time to slow me down and tell me it is okay. Our God is one of answers and truth. He did not lead me astray. Simply be patient and trust. Answers will come.
The Socratic Method is truly the best way to teach someone. If you have never experienced this term, it is when your teacher, instead of feeding you information in no distinct pattern, asks you questions and allows you to figure out the answer to your own problem. My brother is an absolute master at this. Instead of directly telling me why I should trust the inerrancy of Scripture, he asked me about God’s character what Scripture tells us. He asked me why I trust English translations. He got to the source of the problem and question without even saying much. All source of discovery was within me, I simply had not realized it.
Now while he allowed me to find my way through the cloudy mess of emotions I was feeling, that does not mean he did not give his fair share of opinion. He had his points on inerrancy and he gave it to me. It was not random conjecture of points that did not make sense with where I was, but he connected to where I ended up in his questioning. He reminded me of the facts behind God’s character and the source of documents we have in the Greek and Hebrew. He reminded me how close those documents are to our current manuscripts and how the only real difference is within punctuation and certain words; facts that I already knew but hearing them reaffirmed from a different person truly eased my worry. My brother took what was a mess of the mind, and honed it in to tell me I was wrong. I was wrong to worry. The most important part of helping a brother is the growth that occurs afterwards and that does not happen without conviction.
The past year I took off from a direct student leadership position. Being back in that role now is really allowing me to see all of the struggles that people are going through from a firsthand account. So often I think to myself that everyone has it figured out and that I’m the only one who has no idea what is going on, but the truth is none of us have an idea what is going on. The truth is that we are all going through a constant meander of trying to figure out what this life means and why we are given the chance to figure it out. The Lord has allowed me to connect to a select group of guys already in the semester and they are teaching me fellowship. Some of them have already gone through struggles and so have I. They are teaching me that a family of Christ stands together and lives life together; a point that my brother showed me on those early Saturday mornings a year ago.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?
1 John 3:16-17
When given a family of brothers and sisters, all of you will fall at some point. We have a Biblical conviction to stand beside them and support them through Christ. Jesus is the ultimate support, bearing our sins upon the cross, and we are called to imitate that sacrifice for our family members that God has placed in our lives. But support is never simply talking about feelings, but instead involves growth and edification through Jesus.