What makes a "Brother in Christ" so important?
I believe it's about not being alone. Sure, Jesus is always with us and promises never to leave or forsake us. That's comforting; but often, when I'm going through a battle, I still feel alone. Knowing that the battle I'm facing is just as much with my old self (that Zombie who refuses to die) as it is with the powers and principalities of the air, the darkness that pervades our world, makes me feel unworthy. I just want to wallow in my mud - alone.
We weren't created to be alone. As perfect as God is, and as awesome as it must have been for Adam to stroll through the garden with Him in the cool of the evening; He knew we needed other people. So, God created Eve, then came the kids, then other dudes- soon we had brothers.
But companionship wasn't the only thing that resulted from the creation of Eve. It wasn't long before Adam had to make an important choice. He chose, instead of being obedient to God, to do nothing, to eat forbidden fruit, and to blame Eve and God for the outcome. (Gen. 3:12) Eating forbidden fruit emaciates a man- it did in Eden, and it does in the world we live in today!
The result of Adam's lack of initiative was death and the spiritual castration of mankind (gender specific). Since our "fail" in the garden, men (you and I) have struggled to take initiative in nearly every righteous aspect of our lives. How many opportunities to work with God to build His Kingdom (1 Cor. 3:9) have we missed because we didn't take initiative? We've all thought, "Surely someone else, someone more qualified than I, will be called by God to join Him in His labor." Not only is His Kingdom work, assigned specifically to us, delayed, or left undone; we miss the great privilege God has uniquely given to us to choose to do His will.
Guys, the great acts of faith recorded in the bible, the small ones as well, all began with someone taking the initiative to believe God and obey His leading. They all questioned at some point; they all overcame the "Dr. Phil's" of their day that told them how to be happy with who they are. They all chose to risk being seen a fool by their friends, neighbors, fellow pew sitters, and usually religious leaders; pressing on to the Higher Calling to do the will of their God in the hope of his faithfulness. (Heb. 11:1)
Implicit in praying "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven" (Matt. 6:10) is the submission of our wills to the will of God. In Matthew 10:8-9, Jesus' instruction is to you and me - "when you pray", or "after this manner pray ye". Upon us God places the expectation that we do His will - and it is super important that we do. (Matt. 7:21)
Men of God, most of us have never been very good at taking initiative to do the things God nudges us to do. We'll say "I'm gonna get back to that"...but it seldom happens. Initiative is best taken immediately when nudged! Whether it is the voice of self-disqualification, fear, apathy, or something else; it is crucial that we motivate our brothers to take initiative.
It's funny but so like God- We must take the initiative to motivate our brothers to take initiative! It is hard to overcome the discomfort of "encouraging" a brother to get off his butt. (I feel so hypocritical knowing how firmly planted I am upon my own.) It is never as simple as saying, "Dude, get off your butt and do what God is telling you to do." Saying it can elicit an adrenalin spike but seldom produces a lasting action.
Imagine if Ananias hadn't said "Brother Saul..." (Acts 9:17) or if Barnabas had been unwilling to take Saul to the apostles and vouch for him when all they knew him as was a persecutor of the believers in Jesus. (Acts 9:27)
Hebrews 10: 24-25 instructs us to "consider how to stimulate (motivate) one another to love and good deeds" and to "encourage one another". This is instruction to the whole church. But, in how many congregations do you see this happening? It is our responsibility, Men of God, to demonstrate how taking initiative to do God's will changes hearts, expands His Kingdom, heals communities, and blesses the entire body of Christ. Then we must encourage, sometimes strongly, others to put God's desires above their own. This may produce conflict and require boldness on our part. But unless the Church submits its desires to God's, it will never fulfill its purpose.
Brothers- step out. God is stirring the hearts of His people. We are called to take initiative and join with God as He works among us. God will have His way and He can use someone else; but He wants to use you and me! What an honor! Let's not miss the opportunity to glorify God in our obedience. Let's not be the servant who goes and buries his master's talent. (Matt. 25: 14-30)