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Chapter 27 - The Evolution of Relationship
The TV mini-series 'Band of Brothers' presents us with a group of men randomly assigned to a particular group by the Army and through training and combat become as close as brothers. However, after the war is over, they begin to go their separate directions.
Even family relationships change. People can become estranged, relocate geographically, follow different lifestyles, philosophies, or religions. Even marriage (which is supposed to last a lifetime) can be terminated.
Christians are supposed to treat each other as family. Not limited to the anemic family relationships of today, but the deeper, closer, and vital family relationships of the past.
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. - 1 Timothy 5:1-2
It is interesting to note that there is no description of a cautious growing relationship of incremental trust. There is an openness as one would have with ones own family members to be extended to those who are in Christ. There is provision to expel those who would betray or corrupt this trust.
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. - 1 Corinthians 5:9-11
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. - 2 Thessalonians 3:6
The relationships described in the New Testament do not seem to picture a slow growing closer or drifting apart. They seem more binary in that there is either a relationship or not. This may be reflective of fewer barriers to deeper relationship such as less social mobility or more difficult circumstances in the ancient world.
The depth of relationship is a function of trust. Today, without necessity, time, interest, or opportunity it is unlikely that Christian acquaintanceship will develop into Christian relationship. Since much of the Christian life is predicated on ministering to each other to build up the body of Christ, the mature Christian seeking opportunity to fulfill this role the Lord has for him, may have to seek outside of an organizational system for those to whom he can minister.
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