No Brother Left Behind

“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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