I have 4 brothers. None of them are actual blood brothers, they’re brothers-in-law, but it’s their in-lawness that makes each of them so individually wonderful and lovable. One brother saves me tasty produce from his garden, another is my workout buddy and idea bouncing buddy, one hungers for knowledge and loves to talk books, and one accepted Christ while a teenager at church camp and now he’s a compassionate father for lost children. Because I am the oldest in my family and my husband is the youngest, my brothers span a twenty year age spectrum, but as different as these guys are, they all have one important thing in common – they all love Jesus (and yes, they all have me for a sister in law, but that’s not as important). Because of marital ties and spiritual ties, we are family, and I’m proud to claim these men as brothers.
In pursuit of learning, and because of his soft spot for his Catholic roots, my fellow book nerd brother recently began texting me a daily reading from the yellowed pages of his book of saints. We live in separate time zones, so he texts me during his morning reading time, then I wake up a little later, grab my phone, and read my lesson for the day. We’re a few weeks strong into Saint School and we’ve already added a new student, so it seems that S.S. is gaining accreditation.
My brother and I share a bond with our recent enrollment in Saint School, plus we share a love for my sister (his wife, and also, the new student), but we also share a name – the feminine and masculine forms of the same name – and Thursday happened to be the feast day of our names’ saint: Michael, the archangel. Had I known sooner, I may have planned a more feast-like dinner, but lackluster leftovers were taking over the fridge, so I figured I’d skip a night of cooking and begin writing an unexpected post about saints and brothers.
Before Saint School, I was very unfamiliar with the saints and their stories – my protestant background focused on persons of the Bible, testimonies of church members, and happenings of missionaries – but reading about these men and women has strengthened my commitment to living my faith well. I’ve been challenged to give more generously, inspired to pray more effectively, and encouraged to love more dangerously. Some of these Christ followers endured horrible persecution and death for their faith, reminding me that my freedom to worship is a privilege I often view casually.
The faithful mentioned in Hebrews 11 and all throughout the Bible, the saints remembered in my brother’s book, and the loved ones who followed Christ before us are examples of great faith because of their devotion in living, not only in dying. As noble as it may be to die for your faith, it isn’t as inspiring as living wholeheartedly for the God of your faith, but the only way to live in full dedication to Christ is to die in another sense: die to selfishness.
Dying to selfishness means living with less so you can give more. It means forgiving, listening, noticing, sharing, and yes, it means loving the unlovable. These are simple reflections of the God we live for, but these are the examples of Christian faith that people are desperate to see. It takes commitment to put others before yourself. It requires daily focus on the One you’re living for, so that you’ll be strong enough to live His way instead of your own way – which is exactly how Saint School came to be. My brother begins each day with a commitment to read his book, which reminds him to live for Jesus. Then he remembers He’s not alone as a follower of Jesus, so he reminds me (and my sister) to live for Jesus, and together, we are strengthened in our commitment to live our faith as best and as simply as we can.
So strengthen your family ties with your Spiritual brothers and sisters. Read the stories of those who have lived in faith, but more than that, surround yourself with loved ones who will live in faith with you today.