A little girl was doing her best to carry her baby brother. Watching her struggle, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. The girl gave her now famous reply, “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.” Like that little girl, we are often willing to go the extra mile to care for our family.
While in prison, the apostle Paul penned the remarkable letter, we know as the book of Colossians, to a group of Christians he had never met. Colossae had been an important town along a trade route in modern Turkey. While the city had waned in prominence compared to nearby Laodicea, it still had a cosmopolitan feel with different ethnicities, including a significant Jewish population.
Paul introduced himself as an “apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (v. 1). Paul had the authority of one called and appointed by Jesus. As a former persecutor of the faith, Paul was aware that he was an apostle of Christ Jesus only “by the will of God” (v. 1). God had stopped him in his tracks and set him on a new course on the road to Damascus.
Although Paul had never visited this church, he warmly greeted them as “faithful brothers and sisters” (v. 2). Referring to a non-relative as a “brother” or “sister” was highly unusual in Greco-Roman culture. Yet, it was commonplace among early Christians who viewed one another as family. They could act this way because of their unity “in Christ” (v. 2). This was more important than their biological family, or city, or ethnic origin.
Paul ends his greeting with the familiar “grace and peace” (v. 2) upon the Colossians. This phrase is not a throw-away line. The grace of God enabled Paul to be an apostle and helps believers today to treat one another as family—brothers and sisters—in Christ.
Take time to think about the people in your church. Do you view them as family? What might it look like if we lived out this aspect of New Testament teaching? When we accept Christ as Savior, God calls us into a new family. Pray that God will give you the ability to recognize and appreciate the true unity believers have with one another.