“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).”
Alan Robinson and Walter McFarlane have been best friends for 60 years. McFarlane never knew his father and Robinson was adopted. McFarlane wanted to know more about his ancestry so he consulted a DNA-matching website and it found that he had an identical match of X chromosomes with another applicant that went by the handle Robi737. He knew immediately that he and his longtime best friend were half-brothers and shared the same mother (1). Robinson says that McFarlane, 15 months older, was always like a big brother to him.
It is heartwarming that these two men were already brothers in their relationship before they knew of their blood connection. Sometimes, those who are related by blood don’t demonstrate such brotherly love. In the first recorded murder, Cain killed his brother Abel with seemingly little remorse (Genesis 4:8-9). After Jacob duped his brother Esau out of his inheritance, Esau was bent on having bloody revenge (Genesis 27:41). Then 10 of Joseph’s brothers hated him and conspired to kill him but instead sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:5, 20-28). They shared the same DNA of their father Jacob, but harbored hatred for their brother and did him violence.
Years later, after Joseph had grown up and become the Prime Minister of Egypt they didn’t recognize him as their brother, but he recognized them fraternally. After revealing himself and showing his brothers kindness for 17 years
(Genesis 47:28) they still feared that he would have vengeance on them (Genesis 50:15-17). It was likely for the reason of their persistent distrust that Jacob wept (2). Did they ever truly reconcile?
What about us today? Do we recognize and love our brothers and sisters in Christ? As Jesus was speaking to the multitudes a message came to Him that His mother and brothers were outside waiting for Him to come out to them. Jesus responded by asking; “Who is My mother and who are My brothers (Matthew 12:46-50)?” His answer transcended the customary blood relations paradigm and plainly taught that for His followers, fellow believers are one’s true family.
Do we recognize Christian brothers who vote with another political party than our own? If Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector (Luke 6 :13-16) could leave behind their stark political differences for the sake of the gospel then certainly we must as well. Do we share the cup with those of different races and socioeconomic circumstances than ours? If Jews and Gentiles could do so in the first century after generations of separation then how could we not recognize all who break bread with us as our brethren?
Christians are after all, sons of God through faith not DNA, and there is no ethnic origin, gender, nor worldly status that supersedes our brotherly bond in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). We have been brought into one body, and one Spirit, with the same hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all (Ephesians 4:4-6). Like Alan Robinson and Walter McFarlane, Christians are blood brothers, not by our parent’s genes but by the blood of Christ.
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (Romans 12:10).”
- Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001, p.622