My friend Rachel Olsen is hosting a "Friendship Carnival" on her blog this week. Speaking of Rachel I didn't announce the winner of her book from my post last week. I'm happy to announce that "Jennifer" (the very first person to post a comment) won. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing information.
Rachel invited us to post about friendship, and I decided to post one of my past devotions about our trip to Ecuador with Compassion International. I was so touched by the tenderness of our country guide as he spoke with such compassion and offered dignity to those being served by Compassion. While this may not exactly fit Rachel's goals for her carnival, I think we should treat our friends like family. So, here is my post on friendship in the family of God:
“Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1b-2 (NIV)
We were ushered into a two-room hut; our feet shuffled on the hard-packed dirt floor. A tin roof, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling and no running water clearly testified to the financial hardships this family faced. The Americans in the group smiled awkwardly, unsure of whether to look around the room, at the home owners or at our Ecuadorian guide, Omar.
“Hermano y hermana” our guide and translator spoke in gentle tones, as he extended a hand of greeting. “Brother and sister” Omar said in Spanish, “thank you for welcoming us into your home.” The ice broken, we all relaxed and enjoyed a brief time of getting to know this hard-working family whose daughter was part of the Compassion International project in Quito.
That trip in to the poverty-stricken section of Quito was eye-opening in many ways. But the memory of the love and dignity our guides (there were others besides Omar) showed to the families of the “proyecto” – the poorest of poor - dominates all others.
Each visit we made to the project families began with the same greeting: “Brother” or “Sister.” A single word leveled all differences between the giver and recipient of help, between nationalities and between broad economic and educational divides. A single word reminded us we were family, with all the privileges and responsibilities inherent. One heavenly Father – many brothers and sisters.
As I go about my busy life, I can easily forget to treat others as family. It’s quicker to sneak in and out of church without stopping to offer a hug of greeting or a word of encouragement to those around me. It’s even easier during the week to neglect to show familial love to my sisters and brothers in Christ. My blinders slip on and I view life with tunnel vision.
However, through our adoption as daughters and sons of God, we have been ushered into a huge family called the church. The church is not a building – the church is my family. Every person sitting in my church service is related to me through the blood of Jesus. He may be a man brought on a bus from a rehab center, but he is also my brother. She may be a single mom barely hanging on, but she is also my sister. The lonely widower, the brokenhearted professional, the grief-stricken father, the tattooed teenager … brother, sister, brother, sister.
I have a high calling to treat my fellow Christians as if we were related, because we are. Perhaps we might cultivate more love and compassion among us if we adopted the language of my Ecuadorian friend. No, not Spanish. The language of family. How does that sound “mi hermana”?
In His Love,