Brotherhood: More than 'You Go, We Go'
The brotherhood of the fire service is probably one of if not the main reason a lot of us do what we do. You live with these guys, you eat with them, you joke with them and you go through hell with them. They are there no matter what. There are people in the fire service living on the other side of the globe that I have only talked to and have not met that I would do anything for. And here in the United States there are more than 100 guys a year who give the ultimate sacrifice for their brothers.
There is a bible verse that is often thrown around when someone dies in the line of duty. John 15:13 “Greater love has no one but this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.” I see this is as a reflection of all of our brothers who have been killed in the line of duty. But when you take the full context of what John is saying in this chapter, it becomes life changing.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other the way I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15: 9-14
Love each other as I have loved you. Do you know how Jesus has loved you? He died for you. He loves you so much that when you were about to be sent away from God he stood in your place and said please take me and leave them. God does not require us to sacrifice ourselves for another but he does require us to love them so much that it looks like we are. Now how do we do that?
Fred Crosby wrote an article for Fire Engineering Magazine, I would suggest you go read it, in it he compares the brotherhood to an “akin to honor-among-thieves morality” and he says that he has witnessed the brotherhood “interpreted as a pass to behave badly”. These are compared to the traditional thoughts of brotherhood being signified as what I would be willing to do for my brother. He goes on to say “It was not a matter of avoiding personal accountability. It was a matter of accepting responsibility. It was not a matter of being forgiven any sin. It was a matter of avoiding sin and living up to the standards of honor required to be a member of the brotherhood.”
I don’t think it’s too late, I believe we can get the brotherhood back to the way it was and away from the joke it has become. But to do this we need to look to the true meaning of John 15:13 and that is Jesus Christ and his love for us.
Love is a combination of Truth and Grace. Love full of grace but no truth is enabling allowing our brothers to get away with everything and to keep destructive behaviors. But love with truth and no grace is bullying, always condemning our brother’s behaviors. To show our brothers true love, we need to show them truth and conviction in the wrongs that they do and the behaviors they keep. We also need to give them grace when they fall, because we all fall. The only perfect person to walk on this earth was Jesus Christ and he showed us love when we were still sinners and he continues to love us no matter what.
So I leave you with this application: love your brothers.