“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people”
1 Corinthians 14:33
I picture it like this. A man in modest dress looks out into the distance; aware of the looming danger that he has heard is coming. The smell of a campfire, the sounds of his sheep, and the smell of the stew heating on the campfire fill the air. His name is Ananias and he has heard rumors of the man named Saul coming his way with the blessing of the high priest to kill him and those like him who claim that the Nazarene carpenter is the savior. Although he is a godly man, he hates this man that he has never met, but only heard rumors off. What happens next is not all that common but by his response leads me to believe its not the first time that God has spoken to Ananias. God calls his name and seemingly unalarmed Ananias simply responds “Yes Lord”. The Lord gives him a command that very likely is the most difficult command that Ananias could possibly here in this moment. Go to this man Saul and lay your hands on him. In essence, go heal this man who wishes to kill you. Place yourself in Ananias’ sandals. God is telling Ananias to go and love the man who wishes him and his friend’s dead. Ananias does what God commands and goes to Saul, walks into the house and says:
“Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17
Did you catch that? Ananias not only obeyed God’s command, he called Saul his brother. This man was causing unthinkable torment, anguish, pain and death to the people who Ananias loved and he called him “brother”. A man who was at this time outside of the Christian faith, unsaved by belief in the savior, not part of the family of God, actively opposing God’s people and Ananias calls him his brother.
Why is it that in so many instances inside the family of God we miss this message? Why is it that when conflict, disagreement, difference or dispute arise between the people in the church Christians eat there own. Why is that people, who by the very nature of their salvation are brothers and sisters for eternity, can turn their differences into a reason to destroy, attack, discredit, and hurt someone?
In the midst of dispute and disagreement it is so easy for us to turn our focus away from God and inward towards our self. It is so easy to assign ill intent or malicious objectives towards those we perceive to have harmed us in order to protect our views or our own agenda.
If Ananias could call a man who wished him dead brother, shouldn’t we as true Christian brothers and sisters be able to call one another the same? Shouldn’t we be able to see each other’s rights to chose a different path and agree that while we have dispute we are still brothers.
Ananias called Saul “brother” based on the fact that God told him that Saul belonged to the Lord. Christians are brothers based on the exact same truth. We all belong to God and our differences, disputes, and disagreements do not change that truth. Instead of eating our own we should recall the lesson of Ananias and simply call one another “brother”.