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Brothers In Arms   


"Brothers In Arms" is one of my favourite songs from the 1980's.  It was recorded by Dire Straits and was written by Mark Knopfler, the lead singer/guitarist of Dire Straits.  I like everything about this song.  I like the melody.  I like the clarity and distinctiveness of the instruments being played.  I really like how Alan Clark plays his Hammond organ and how Mark Knopfler plays his Gibson Les Paul guitar.  Beyond that, the lyrics of this song are as insightful as the music is inspiring.  Here are a few lines from the song. 


"Through these fields of destruction

Baptisms of fire

I've witnessed the sufferings

As the battle raged higher

And though they did hurt me so bad

In the fear and alarm

You did not desert me

Brothers in arms.

We are fools to make war

On our brothers in arms"  


If I understand the lyrics, the support and camaraderie that exists among brothers in arms are vital for success on the battlefield.  Only fools make war with brothers in arms.  If this is the case with brothers in arms, it should certainly be the case with brothers in Christ.  We too fight a battle; a battle the Apostle Paul calls "the good fight of faith" in 1 Timothy 6:12.


As Knopfler was forming Dire Straits in the early 1970's, I was living one of the most exciting times in my life.  The Jesus People Movement had found its way from California to Canada.  My friends and I traveled the countryside sharing Jesus with anyone who'd listen, and even with some who wouldn't listen.  We not only preached Jesus in buildings that most, but not me, call churches; we preached Jesus in parks, schools, colleges, coffee houses, homes, street corners, prisons, and bars.  Yes, I did say bars.  We led one rock band to Jesus during our evangelical visits to one particular bar. 


As young soldiers in the battle of faith, the support and camaraderie among us was real.  At times the battle actually got physical.  One of my brothers in Christ was punched in the face.  We had to search the street to find his glasses.  Once, while sharing Jesus in a coffee house, I flew over a table and onto the floor after receiving a solid punch.  While rising to my feet, I ended up back on the floor because of a kick to my head.  I wasn't so quick to my feet after that. 


Back then, meeting a new brother in Christ was a joyous event.  We extended our hands of fellowship and our arms of camaraderie to a new found brother in Christ.  So, on one occasion I was dumbfounded.  While returning from one of my evangelical escapades I sat beside an older man on the train.  I was overjoyed to learn that he was a Christian.  I expected the same joy to be reciprocated.  I anticipated a great conversation about the things of our Lord while riding the rails.  I reached out and offered him a hearty handshake only to feel a loosely gripped, wimpish, handshake in return.  His mundane, nonchalant, response took me aback.  His "what's the big deal about meeting a brother in Christ" attitude dampened my enthusiasm.  I don't know for sure, but maybe my long hair turned him off. 


I recently met a lady who I discovered was a sister Christ.  As usual I was glad to meet a Christian I had never met before.  Once she knew I was a Christian her first response was a question.  "What church do you go to?"  Anyone who knows me knows how much that unbiblical based question annoys me.  Is not knowing that I'm a fellow brother in Jesus something to be joyful about?  Do I need to state my denominational and doctrinal distinctives right up front?  According to the New Testament, church is not a place or a meeting that we go to.  There's no Biblical logic in saying we can go to church when we are the church.  You can't go to a place when you are that place.  People tell me it's just words.  I shouldn't be concerned if people don't always say the right words.  They say everyone knows church isn't a place or a meeting.  I say that if the Bible's concept of church is burned into our hearts and souls, we'll say the right words.  Despite the general consensus, words are important.  They really do tell us what we believe.  


I guess it's just human nature.  We like to pigeonhole people into ecclesiastical corners, which at times look more like the corners of a boxing ring than the corners of the community of Christ.  When we squeeze each other into unbiblical ecclesiastical corners, we destroy the support and camaraderie that's vital on the battlefield of faith. 


I understand how it works. Back in the late 1970's and 1980's I was a part of the Shepherding Movement.  In that movement, each one of us had a personal pastor.  We called him our shepherd.  He was over us in the chain of authority within the movement.  Invariably, when many of us would meet a new brother in the movement, we'd ask, "who are you under?"  Knowing where your shepherd was situated in the chain of authority seemed important.  The closer he was to the top of the chain, the more important some of us felt.   


Knopfler's "Brothers In Arms" expresses something many Christians miss.  "Through the fields of destruction, the baptisms of fire, we witness the suffering, the battle rages higher, you did not desert me we are fools to make war on our brothers in arms."  As we find ourselves on the battlefield of faith we're baptized in the fire of cultural conflict.  The support and camaraderie of being brothers in Christ is vital for our survival.  Yes, we are brothers in Christ, but we are also brothers in arms.

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