Our Identity in the Family of God
What does “brother” (or “sister”) mean for us as believers in Jesus Christ? Among younger members of the church today, the word “brother” (or “sister”) may seem a little foreign, or it may not seem to be related to Christianity at all. The slang, “What’s up, bro?” is the primary place we see non-biological family members referring to one another in similar fashion to “brother.”
For those who have grown up in the church, the term might seem like one that was used by previous generations of Christians and is only retained for tradition. However, there is an identity that we as believers must internalize, whether we choose to call one another “brothers and sisters” or not.
Jesus, Son of God
Our identity starts with Jesus. Jesus Christ—conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, the promised Messiah and seed of Abraham, the Son of God—is our only hope for reconciliation and right standing with God. He was the Word that was with God in the beginning, and he is the one who is worthy to open the scroll, because he was slain and by his blood he purchased people from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev 5:9). He is the Firstborn over all creation, and he is the Firstfruits of the new creation, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:20-24).
A New Creation
This is the craziest part. If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone; the new is here (2 Cor 5:17)! We are reborn by God’s grace. For all who did receive Christ, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God (Jn 1:12-13).
So you, believer in Jesus Christ, adopted son or daughter: you are a child of God. What then of “brother” and “sister”? Would this not be those people described as: “those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Cor 1:2)? Those who have been saved by God from their former way of life and have made Jesus their Lord—they are your brothers and sisters.
A New Family
Do you consider that the people you worship with have been saved by the same God that saved you? That they, like you, have accepted as Lord of their lives the same Jesus to whom you also submit? It’s profound, but we don’t often see it. But if we consider it more deeply, it will change the way we relate to one another. It will radically define, as it did for Jesus, who we consider our mother, and brother, and sister.
So, next time a fellow believer calls you brother and it feels weird, remember your identity as sons and daughters of God.