Summary: According to Jesus, a person’s actions and attitude will demonstrate who he has as father.
Few pictures from our family history speak more of family camaraderie than those of my dad with his 5 boys. I wouldn’t want to minimize Mom’s significance for a second, or fail to point out that my dad always said, “I have 5 sons, and each one of them has a sister!” But there’s something about pictures of Dad with his boys that really stands out – He seems to have a kind of Harrison Ford smirk on his face as he stands there. Here’s a picture of all 6 of us at my brother’s wedding. If you could step back from it and line us up, you’d see that everyone gets shorter and wider with age. My oldest brother, Dan, was born 17 years before me. He was headed off to college while I was learning to walk. Still, I know that I could turn to any one of my brothers with a need at any time and they’d be there for me. There’s a sense of “brotherhood” among us. What causes that? Well, for one, Dad did. We were raised in the same home, with the same father. As a result, although we each bear certain traits of Mom, we all have a similar appearance. As a result, each of those brothers has a good sense of humor. As a result, each one has a certain way about him that marks him as a Nichols. There’s a part of us that can’t help it! We are brothers. What’s most wonderful is that each one of these guys is also my brother in Christ.
Now, let’s consider family ties for a minute. Brothers, sisters – that includes most of you here this morning. You’re my brothers and sisters in Jesus. That’s why you might hear us rightly calling one another “brother” or “sister.” That family tie also includes many people who are meeting to worship today in Carthage, Carl Junction, Carterville, Webb City, Oronogo, and a bunch of other Christian Church congregations in the area, and in places around the world today too.
That includes some people who are meeting at those “other churches” this morning - people who are obedient to Christ and who are sincerely seeking to be His disciples. Have you come to grips with that? You’re part of a church that recognizes we are trying to be “Christians only” but not the only Christians. So, through the years, we’ve wrestled with this idea of who we are to call “brother” or “sister” in Jesus. Some want to be inclusive and kind – to just make it include anyone who’s part of any church, or any religion, any-where. That sounds nice. Let’s just call us all part of the “great big brotherhood of man.” With God as our Father, brothers all are we! Are we?
What about those who want to just toss around that title – brother – as a way of trying to claim a certain kinship where there’s really no right to it? Have you ever had anyone call you “brother” because he was trying to get something from you?
I want to play a sound clip for you from one of my favorite radio personalities. He calls his character Gilbert Gnarley. Once in a while, from his radio station in Cincinnati, he’d call up certain businesses and engage them in a phone conversation – also known as a crank call. This particular day, Gilbert calls up a psychic hotline, looking for help. Now, keep in mind that the guy on the other end of the phone is a fast-talking con artist.
"Gilbert Gnarley" audio clip here – on CD (psychic hotline – text below. 1 min. long - the text of the dialog can be put up as it plays:
Yes, uh, is this the Reverend, Uh, Jordean, God-gifted-problem-solver-and-medicine-man?
Uh, yes it is.
My name is Gilbert Gnarley: G-n-a-r-l-e-y.
And I’m very glad I reached you because I have an emergency.
How can I help you?
Well, last night, see, I was watching TV – I don’t know if you saw it – it was that special tribute to the Partridge Family’s Danny Bonaduce …
He’s one of my favorites… Anyway, my lottery number came up on the screen.
Your, your what?
My lottery number! You know at first I didn’t believe it, but then I realized that those were the numbers that I play every week.
Well, Brother, how can I help you?)
Isn’t it amazing how, suddenly, you’re someone’s brother?!
Not all people are brothers. I don’t believe in "the great big brotherhood of man," and I suggest to you today, we ought to be careful about whom we call "brother." Not everyone this morning can rightly be called my brother or sister. According to Jesus here in Jn 8, that just isn’t true.