When the new governor of Alabama recently attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally, he acknowledged that fellow Christians of all colors are his brothers and sisters and expressed a wish that all could share that status. The public outcry that followed, revealed truly impressive levels of Politically Correct prejudice and Biblical ignorance.
The 1st Amendment of the USA Constitution formally states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech…” Ignoring the obvious reality that this is addressing the Federal government (in the form of Congress), rather than state or local governments, this Amendment clearly places restrictions upon governmental actions in the form of “law.” It does not address statements of opinion or statements of faith. In fact, if legislative-law OR bench-law were to restrict an individual working for the government from making those statements of opinion or faith, a strong case could be made that this governmental action would actually be “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” as well as “abridging the freedom of speech.” All of the caterwauling claiming otherwise is founded in Politically Correct bigotry against freedom of religion, in general, and against Christianity, in particular!
Surprisingly, even Political Pundit, Glenn Beck asserted, “A true messenger of Jesus Christ must consider every person a brother or sister.” He later added; “Governor, you are sadly mistaken about your Christianity.” — On the contrary, Mr. Beck, either you are being unusually sloppy in your language or Governor Bentley is more familiar with what Jesus actually said than you are. — Even more revealing of the sad state of our country, though, is the fact that Evangelical Christians nationwide (who claim to be orthodox Christians and who also claim to be educated in Scripture) are also parroting this same anti-Scriptural half-truth.
I have a radical proposal; I suggest that Christians should actually read the Bible! If they do, they might actually begin to grasp the differences between the Biblical concept of “brother/sister” vs. the Biblical concept of “neighbor.”
As to whether or not every person is in fact my brother or sister, I suggest that we defer to Jesus himself, as recorded in Scripture…
The Gospel of Mark (Mark 3:32-35) records Jesus as saying; ‘“Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”’ This is repeated, nearly word for word, in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50) .
Brothers and Sisters share a common parent. As Paul explains (Romans 5:12-6:11), we are initially born of the lineage of Adam. However, when we accept the sacrifice of our Christ, we are “Born Again” through Baptism and become new creatures; re-born into the lineage of Jesus, with God as our true Father for the very first time. We begin our lives sharing a parent with all of the unsaved world. Through Jesus, we trade our old family for a new one; spiritually and truly, we then no longer share a common parent with the unsaved. This is why Paul continues; “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God… you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:12-17).
Anyone with a mission-oriented heart resonates with the reality that “a true messenger of Jesus Christ” must desire God’s best for each person. However, this is most accurately reflected in the Biblical concept of the “neighbor.” Unlike most religions, Christianity teaches that we are to love and seek the best for our neighbors, not Just our brothers and sisters (Matthew 22:37-40). When a man asked; “who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus then asked the man; “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
IF we are truly born again followers of Jesus, our Christ, it is our fellow believers everywhere who form the Body of Christ, who form the true Church, and who our real brothers and sisters. All non-believers are our neighbors, and we should love them enough ti bear witness to the gift that God offers so freely; salvation and new life.
Governor Bentley was right… he made no implication of inappropriate governmental action and he did no one a disservice… In fact he made the very kindest wish that any faithful Christian can offer; he publicly wished that non-believers could become our family, by voluntarily accepting that greatest gift that God has ever offered to mankind: the only and true Messiah… Jesus, our Saviour.
Shalom; Christ’s peace to you!