It’s no secret that one of the strongest foundations of a friendship is common ground. Do we have the same age? Are we studying the same career? Do we work for the same company? Do we like the same things? Do we share the same hobbies? Do we live by the same faith?
Faith can—and should be—the strongest foundation for our relationships. It shapes the way we think about everything else in our lives. It shapes the way we behave and react to certain situations. It produces a supernatural miracle in us, carried out by the Holy Spirit, that transforms us more into the likeness of Christ. And that is a bond that deserves more than a friendship.
THE FAITH BROTHERHOOD
John 1:12 says that “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. That means that all of us who share the faith in Jesus should have more than a friendship, a brotherhood [as sons and daughters of God]. Sadly, most of the times, we treat this brotherhood more like a friendship. We put many limitations and restrictions to our relationships, especially concerning age.
Most times, we are reluctant to initiate relationships with people who are not on the same life stage or age range as we are. Sometimes, we don’t even try.
But when we think about a real-life brotherhood, a group of brothers and sisters that belong to the same family, we think about different people with different ages. Each one must be at least 8-9 months apart from the other. The only way that siblings can have the same age is if they are twins or triplets […], and we know that is not the norm.
Siblings who are one, five or ten years apart are not less family because of their age difference. The love/blood bond between them remains unchanged in spite of their age. And of course, there will be differences, because the passing of the years brings—in most cases—a maturity that comes through life experiences. But the beauty of family is that there is a greater and stronger bond between each member than whatever tastes they have in common or whatever life stage they go through together. They are family!
THE CHURCH IS FAMILY
If we think of the church (of our brethren in the faith) as a blood family, how much different our relationships would be! If we were intentional on interacting with our brethren who are younger or older, how much insight we would gain!
During my time as a substitute math teacher, I interacted with students younger than me. I am 5-7 years older than all of them. I am in a different life stage. But I discovered how much I could learn from each one of these younger students—and enjoy their company—if I only decided to not treat them with disdain. (1 Timothy 4:12)
The differences that the age gap produce are not a reason to shy away. And I admit that I had avoided interacting with people [fellow brethren] considerably younger or older. But the Holy Spirit in us, the love of Christ in our hearts should be the superglue in our relationships. We should not expect to instantly click or to share many interests or to have them relate to what we feel; but there must be intentionality in loving and interacting with our brothers and sisters in the faith, seeking insight from each other, spurring each other to grow, mentoring. That’s the way I envision my own local church and the church as a whole.
AGE AND AFFINITY
I don’t mean to minimize the importance of affinity in relationships. The people we are closest to are usually the people we can relate to the most. Our relationships with people where there’s not that much common ground won’t have the same depth as our close friendships. But the bond of brotherly love between us should look past affinity.
This brotherhood of the faith is about more than my selfish desires (the desire to fit in or to be understood); it’s about the growth of the whole body of Christ. It’s about showing the world the love that is in us and among us (John 13:35). And we’d be surprised how well we could get along with people with whom we apparently have nothing in common. Sometimes, it’s more about leaving prejudice behind and letting the love of Christ shine through.
Diversity makes for an interesting world.
What has been your experience interacting with people in different age ranges?