Band of Brothers
We exist in a web of relationships. There's no denying that these relationships, especially those that are the most close or meaningful to me, have an impact on the person I am and the person I am continually becoming. No man is an island. I see this dynamic at work when I reflect on how my behaviour may change or adapt depending on the people I'm hanging out with.
Nowadays, I don't feel the need to be someone I'm not in an attempt to 'fit in'. I guess I've come to the age where I am comfortable in my own skin and have got over the insecurities I once had in those awkward teenage years. And yet, when I'm hanging around people who are swearing, foul language is more likely to creep in my own mouth. When I'm hanging around people who are gossiping, I'm more likely to gossip. When I'm with people who complain, I'm more likely to allow their perspective filter into my own. That is, unless I actively resist these things. But it's so easy to slip into these not so positive behaviours (we’ve all been there, right?).
However, the converse is also true. When I'm hanging around people who are virtuous, I'm encouraged, I feel supported and strengthened in the way I want to live my life, and I'm often inspired to be better.
Let me make something clear. I don't want you to read this and think I'm suggesting that we should abandon friendships with people who don't have the same faith as us. In fact, these relationships are crucial! You might be the only Christian that person knows and you have a duty to reveal Christ to them through the way you love them. These friendships can also teach you a lot about the world and how to love authentically. I cherish my friendships with my friends who don’t believe in God. But I recognise that I also need friendships with people who share the same values and beliefs I uphold.
For a long time I valued my independence, the ability to do as I pleased without needing to rely on anyone. Needing help from anyone else I used to consider a sign of weakness. But now I’ve come to realise that I can’t be a Christian on my own. I need community. And it's for this reason that I especially value brotherhood. It's one of the cornerstones in my spiritual life, along with the Sacraments and personal prayer.
I need brothers around me who 'get it', who are walking the same journey of faith I am and understand all the struggles involved with that. I need brothers who I'm able to be open and vulnerable with. I need brothers who challenge me and inspire me through their witness to Jesus Christ. I need brothers who support me and pray for me. These are the guys that I find myself wanting to spend time with, wanting to invest in relationships with, because they help me to be the best version of myself, the man of God that I’m called to be.
And I’m convinced that God wants to draw brothers together and use them to change the world. Unity among men of faith is a powerful force. Imagine if we had an army of believers that moved with the same passion and power as the Western Sydney Wanderers Supporters! God’s power at work in us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine!
So guys, let’s invest in brotherhood. It doesn’t just happen. It needs effort on our part. But the fruitfulness in your lives and the lives of the people you encounter will be so evident. And finally a bit of a plug, if you missed out on the Young Men of God conference this year, seriously, get on that for 2016. It will change your life.