Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

 Romans 8:29


Just before he passed away, Narayan Vaman Tilak (1861-1919), a famous convert to Christianity in India,  wrote the following to a missionary friend: “Cease to be fathers and mothers, be real brothers and sisters, know how to appreciate, trust people, and take the place of India’s revered saints.”

Unfortunately, a patronizing attitude can be present as well by supporters of the sick, the disadvantaged, and those living with mental health issues. In caring for them a fatherly or motherly role is adopted – a role that sets themselves at a different level than those they serve. Although they are generous people who mean well, such an attitude can at times appear.

Some of us might welcome having a motherly person taking us under her wings. She gives us the kind of love we might have missed as a child. We’re treated with a warmth we never had before. With the help of such a godly person we learn what God’s love feels like. But here’s a warning:  Although we welcome such support it’s easy to become too attached. We might come to rely on her, which wouldn’t be helpful at all.

As we see in Narayan Tilak’s letter above, he would much rather have had a brother or sister befriend him or minister to him. And wouldn’t it be healthier for all of us to be supported by those who can see us as equals?

In several places the Bible refers to Jesus as our brother. It tells us that when we surrender our lives to Jesus, God adopts us to be his brothers and sisters.

Many of us prefer to turn to Jesus rather than God when we’re in need. Jesus doesn’t seem as far away. We look on Jesus as a friend, someone we can more easily identify with. Jesus humbled himself when he came to earth, bringing himself close to those he would live amongst. Two thousand years ago he walked, talked, and spent time with people like us.

In our lives as Jesus’s followers, we are called to imitate him – to care about others in the way he did.

How did Jesus care for the sick, the lonely, the poor? With love, of course. But importantly, “by taking the very nature of a servant.” (Phil. 2:7). He became a big brother to those who belonged to the family of God. He spent time with the outcasts and socially ostracized. Through Jesus’s presence they were lifted up, made to feel they had value.