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Dear Brothers and Sisters

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

As I arrive at our denomination’s General Assembly, I have already encountered a number of dear friends, all of whom I warmly greet as “brother.” There will also be a number of dear “sisters” here this week as well. As one of my friends described it, “It’s a family reunion!” Yes, yes it is.

There’s a very good reason we refer to other Christians as brothers and sisters. The kinship we have with others who are “dearly loved by God” are, by Paul’s accounting, “very dear to us.” These are our fellow heirs in Christ, so more deeply rooted than any physical bloodline or familial tie.

Ezekiel tells us that when God saves a person, He exchanges their dead “heart of stone” for a living “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). Even as a newly conceived child in the womb, we begin the process of transformation! Of course, we understand, unlike Nicodemus, that we do not physically enter again into our mother’s womb to be “born again.” No, we are “born from above,” a supernatural work of God by the power of the Holy Spirit applying the full and finished work of Christ to our account. Our greatest desires begin to conform to God’s desires, and ultimately, we want God’s will more than anything else. This change occurs at the core of who we are; it’s a central shift in identity.

Our newfound identity rests in what Jesus has accomplished and won, in His victory, not in any of our own. We delight in worshipping Jesus in all that we do, and we aspire to walk as He walked.

While we will never be perfect on this earth, we still share that foundational unity with other believers that is only found in Christ. When we gather with our brothers and sisters, dwell upon the things of life with them, and reflect upon how God’s truth and reality can be witnessed every day. These times of fellowship are sweet and encouraging, so much so, that it is very easy to understand how Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had become so “affectionately desirous” of the Thessalonians.

Yes, we are going to have some very hard conversations together as we “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). But at the close of our Assembly, we will still joyously and lovingly sing Psalm 133 together, with full voice, for our hope rests not in our brotherhood, but in our great Father and elder brother, Jesus, who have made us one.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore (Psalm 133:1-3).

Our Christian brothers and sisters should also become “very dear to us”. This week, make time for prayer and fellowship with other Christians, you will savor and grow from these times together.