The word “brotherhood” carries different connotations for different people. Some associate brotherhood with the entirety of mankind; others apply it only to an immediate family. That many attach great importance to brotherhood is evidenced by the numerous organizations, fraternities, and societies purporting to be brotherhoods. The late John Lennon, once a member of the Beatles, recorded a very popular song which put forth his views of what brotherhood entails. The brotherhood he “imagined” required (1) No heaven or hell—So all people would live for today instead of preparing for eternity, (2) No countries or religion—So there would be nothing for which to kill or die, and (3) No possessions—So there would be no greed or hunger. If these conditions should be met, he insisted, there would exist “a brotherhood of man…sharing all the world.”
The problem is, this concept is based on imagination and not reality. Both heaven and hell do exist; pretending they do not will not make their reality diminish. If mankind were to completely blot their existence from memory, the “brotherhood of man” would all be lost (2 Thess. 1:8-9). Political government has been instituted by God as essential to maintaining a degree of order (Rom. 13:1-4). Man is generally very selfish, and will generally act upon his selfish desires if he perceives that there are no negative consequences to face, whether from God or government. Regarding the desire for “no religion,” it would certainly be to the advantage of all if false religions were to disappear from the face of the earth (Matt. 7:15). However, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27). Christianity is not a cause of killing or physical warfare; although a spiritual warfare is indeed waged against the aforementioned foes of God and humanity. As to “no possessions”; again, this cannot be possible when selfish men are allowed to pursue their selfish desires with no restraints.
There is no hope in a mere “brotherhood of man” in which each man or woman is his own highest authority. Cain apparently disregarded the facts that heaven and hell exist, that there was true religion, and that he and his brother were to coexist peacefully—and it led to murder, even of his own brother (Gen. 4). The violence in the Middle East between Muslims and Jews is between brothers, sons of Abraham. That all mankind has a common ancestor is not basis enough for a true brotherhood. But there is hope, a basis for true brotherhood. There existed no deeper loathing than that of the Jews toward the Gentiles; and yet,
He [Jesus Christ, LM] is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph. 2:14-15).
The hope of mankind is a brotherhood of man in Christ. John Lennon’s song closes expressing his desire that “the world will live as one.” All who are in Christ are described as being one new man. To see what true brotherhood is, read about the early church of Christ:
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart (Acts 2:42, 43-46).
When people “live for today”; when people want to live without God; there is selfishness run rampant—chaos and murder. But in Christ there is true brotherhood, and a brotherhood which will continue forever.