I recently got into an argument with my doctor. The conversation started with me asking, "Can we talk about my hour wait?" It didn't make him happy and he handed me a book and said, "read the first page." He left to check on my blood work. I thought it a bit odd but I read the opening page. It remunerated the futility of life and then the last phrase was, "But we are all brothers." My doctor is Lebanese. We eventually worked it out but that last phrase still begs a question, "are we all brothers?"
I have maternal and paternal brothers, I know that's not it. I guess we are all brothers of the human race. He is a Muslim and I am a Christian, we could be called brothers of Abraham, along with Jews. That is a possibility.
I believe there is a desire among civilized people to universally connect with one another. That would be natural because we are all created in the image of God. However, sin has marred that image, and subsequently the universal brotherhood has fractured. Sin ruins everything.
As a result of sin we are alienated from one another because we are alienated from God. We believe in different gods, different ideas of eternity, different ideas of salvation, and different ideas of morality. Our connection as brothers seems good on the surface, but falls short with any meaningful conversation.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians, "to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ." From the beginning of his letter he identifies his relational connection with the Colossians, they are brothers, but not just any kind of brother. He qualifies their brotherhood by identifying them as "saints", "faithful", and in Christ.
Saints. The word saint is a religious term that means, separated out for a particular use. The commonality of this brotherhood is that they were taken from among other objects and set aside for a particular use. Paul doesn't identify the saints purpose, only that his audience are saints. The rest of the letter clarifies it. In this specific verse we have another identifying characteristic of the brotherhood, "in Christ."
In Christ. The brotherhood isn't any ordinary society. It is built on a relationship with Jesus. Of course who is Jesus? That is answered in the rest of the letter. In the context of brotherhood it shrinks the pool. Brotherhood of man, the brotherhood of called out (which could include Israel), the brotherhood of Jesus. But Paul doesn't leave it there, he shrinks the pool even further by saying, "faithful brothers."
Faithful. Jesus said that not everyone who says "Lord, Lord," will enter into the kingdom. One can not merely say he is a Christian and expect to receive the blessings of God. Jesus said believers would be known by their fruit, they will persevere to the end, and that they will seek to be holy as he is holy. The Greek word pisto means true. Their are counterfeit Christians, the tares growing up with the wheat. To belong to this brotherhood you have to be true to the precepts of Jesus.
The brotherhood of faithful saints of Jesus isn't exclusive. Jesus wants everyone to belong to it, but it is narrow in that it excludes those who do not believe in his sacrificial work and the power of his resurrection.
It is encouraging to know that I belong to a brotherhood of people who love the Lord with all their hearts, love each other, and seek to love the world inviting them to join the brotherhood. It's meaningful, deep, and satisfying. We are not perfect, but Jesus is. I'm just saying.