[forthright] No Brother Left Behind

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2008 08:30:10 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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No Brother Left Behind
by J. Randal Matheny, editor

"No child left behind" is a government program designed
to improve the American educational system. It appears
to be the old idea of throwing money at a problem.
(Churches do the same thing in missions.) While the
sentiment of not letting any child fall behind in
school is laudable, the execution may well lack in its
effectiveness.

Spiritually, no brother or sister should be left
behind. No fellow saint should be forgotten or
neglected.

This desire to keep up with all the disciples has made
finding a meeting place for the church in São José dos
Campos problematic. People are scattered across our
chopped-up city, and some live in nearby towns. Many
depend on buses, and finding a place near where the
routes come together is difficult.

But it's worth the effort.


Jesus Cared for All

Jesus talked about caring for the little people, the
least in the kingdom (Matthew 25:40, 45). He personally
cared for those left behind: the children, women,
sinners (put the word in quotation marks, since we all
are), publicans, the sick and diseased, the demon
possessed, the foreigners.

Jesus used a child as an object lesson. "Whoever
receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever
receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is
least among you all is the one who is great" (Luke 9:48
ESV).

"Receiving" in this verse means welcoming, seeing to
needs, accepting, caring for, valuing as worthy of
service.

Giving a little one a cup of water for Jesus' sake
brings great reward (Matthew 10:42).

On the other hand, tripping up one of them brings the
Lord's heavy condemnation upon one's head (Matthew
18:6). These seemingly unimportant guys have angels who
"always see the face of [Jesus'] Father who is in
heaven" (v. 8). They are well connected. So you don't
want to forget or harm one of his little ones, because
"it is not the will of [the] Father who is in heaven
that one of these little ones should perish" (v. 14).

Now these are just some of Jesus' teaching about "No
Brother Left Behind."


Apostle Paul Embraced All

And we've not even gotten to the epistles yet. Space
fails me to tell of Paul's concern for the weak in
faith (Romans 14). This apostle goes to extreme lengths
not to burden anyone (2 Corinthians 8:13; 11:9; 12:13-
16; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8) and
insists that others not be put upon (1 Timothy 5:6),
but the follower of Jesus must be willing to bear
another's burden, especially when dealing with
another's transgression (Galatians 6.1-2). No brother
left behind.

No matter the little person's problem or station or
progress or story. Don't leave any one behind.

"And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,
encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient
with them all" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).


Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, Too!

The Hebrews writer quotes the Old Testament to note the
change in spiritual regime. In the new covenant, the
little folk matter. "And they shall not teach, each one
his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know
the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least
of them to the greatest" (Hebrews 8:11). In the
Kingdom, there is room for all. Access to the divine
throne for the masses. Doors thrown open. No saint left
behind.

Good old Jude, who rants at the false teachers, is
tender toward the weak and wavering. "And have mercy on
those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of
the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even
the garment stained by the flesh" (Jude 22-23). For the
brother of the Lord, those who doubt, don't boot out.
Even those who seem to be goners, whom we might want to
wash our hands of, still deserve heroic measures to
save. Mercy in last-ditch rescue attempts trumps
smugness and arm-crossing every time.

John reveals Jesus' words to the Philadelphian church.
"I know you have but little power" (Revelation 3:8).
More little guys. More wallflowers that nobody notices.
But the Lord says he'll make the false Jews come and
bow down before them (v. 9). The humble will be
exalted. The Lord will do this. He isn't going to
forget the least in the kingdom. When he tells them, "I
know your works" (v. 8a), it's an assurance to them.

Why does this matter? That weak one, that doubting
Thomas, that wavering soul, that wilting heart, is "the
brother for whom Christ died" (1 Corinthians 8:11). To
wound the conscience of the weak is to "sin against
Christ" (v. 12). To let the little guy drop off the map
is to insult the Lord's sacrifice for all.

No brother left behind. May both our sentiment and our
execution be worthy of the Lord.

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