About two weeks ago, the Riv pastors and our wives went on a retreat together. A few days before the retreat, I sent an email to the guys. My email said:

I am really looking forward to our time together this weekend. You guys are my joy and my crown. I love you and long for you.

Your brother,
— Noel

I got the idea from Philippians 4:1.

“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”

Close enough.

I was almost giddy hitting “send”on my email because of the discomfort I knew this email would create. I couldn’t wait for their responses.

I got none.

See, we don’t know what to do with stuff like this! We have lost something in our culture to our detriment. We have lost what it truly means to have this type of brotherhood and words like Paul’s seem … to put it mildly … weird. But as cheesy as they sound, they are a powerful example of what we have in the church, in the body of Christ.

When Paul refers to brothers here, he was talking to both the men and the women. Your footnotes will let you know that. This church is a family that has the basis of our relationship with each other, our relationship with Jesus (our big brother).

At the end of this verse, Paul uses a word we don’t frequently hear nowadays: beloved. Paul has a tone of tenderness here. From this place, he was able to say to his brothers and sisters: “stand firm thus in the Lord.” What he is saying is we (together) look at everything around us as citizens of Heaven, sitting next to Jesus, our big brother.

Let me say it this way:

We focus on Jesus so we can deal with everything else.

We focus on the big and let that help us deal with the small. We know that Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection is far greater than any argument, any anxiety, any struggle we deal with during our stay on earth.

It is only by standing firm in Jesus and his power that we can deal with this life.

And that, my joy and my crown, is something to email about.

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