The other night, as I blogged yesterday, I went to a prayer thing. As part of that time my friend Lara preached. Some of what she spoke into related to the Prodigal Son story – one that is very dear to my heart – for obvious reasons! She highlighted the fact that the two sons in the parable were good at showing love to their Father. In very different ways, we can see their loyalty and closeness to their Dad. But these two young men were NOT good at loving each other. They were far from well-functioning brothers. They obviously had very little time for one another. There are signs that they showed each other disrespect and possibly even distaste.

Yesterday I spent a blissful two hours playing an imaginary game with my children. I got huge pleasure not just from being with them, but from seeing them interacting so fabulously with one another. Now, my boys are far from perfect! They fight like any children in the world do, but they absolutely LOVE each other too. If I tell one of them off, the others crowd around like a pack to console, befriend and make it better. Woe betide anyone who tries to take on a Hancock boy at school. They will find themselves against a formidable trio!

If we relate this to ourselves and the wider church, many of us are good at loving our Father, God. We find it easy to show Him honour and respect. But we often struggle to please Him by showing that kind of love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How good a sibling are you? Are you patient with those who love Father in a different way to you? Do you look down on those who express their love in what looks to you like hyped-up manicdom or ‘boring’ quiet stillness? Are you tempted to categorise your ‘family’ members into boxes? Fundamentalist, liberalist, traditionalist, reformist, charismatic, conservative, evangelical…. we have many labels for ourselves and others don’t we?

I was very challenged by this simple but profound word. I can find it easy to judge people around me as ‘not quite all that they could be’ and want to wade in with my critical hat on. Sometimes this is my calling… after all, I have been told to be a bringer of healing and wholeness and to do that, I need to be able to see what is going on… but sometimes… if I’m honest…my motives are a whole lot more mixed and whole lot less pure.

I am meant to be not just a good daughter of the King, but a good sister to His children. This kind of service, this “I will wash your feet” kind of love is well-known to Him. I’m praying today that I will really start to grasp all this means for me here. Perhaps you need to assess what you can do to stop competing, judging or simply misunderstanding those around you. My sense is that we really miss out on what it means to be family when we decide not to be someone’s ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ in this way. And woe betide us when THE Heavenly Formidable Trio get to hear about it.