The relationship that the brethren share in the Body of Christ with one another is in fact and must be the primary qualification of the Church. This is what we learn from overhearing the high-priestly prayer of Christ recorded in the 17th chapter of the gospel according to John. How we are to treat one another with love, respect and awe is found throughout all the apostolic writings of the New Testament, but particularly in the first letter of the evangelist John. Yet, even in the Old Testament we are taught how to love one another.
We read of Jonathan entering into a covenant with David (1 Samuel 18:1-8). This is a prophetic image of what relationship should be like in the body of Christ. ‘Jonathan's soul was knit to the soul of David.’ The word for ‘knit’ (נקשרה, niksheráh > was knit) is the same root word (קשר) used in Nehemiah 4:6, which describes the wall of Jerusalem being built (ותקשר, vatikashér > was joined) so there were no gaps in it. Jonathan's heart was knit with David's without a gap—no space between their hearts for the enemy to come through. Jonathan loved David as himself. This is our calling in the body of Christ too, ‘that they may be one as we are one,’ such that there is no gap between us of misunderstanding, jealousy, or suspicion through which satan can slip to divide us.
Jonathan made a covenant with David and, as a symbol, removed his royal robe and placed it on David. This act symbolized Jonathan's desire to die to himself as the next king of Israel and to make David king. The holy apostle Paul writes, ‘Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other’ (Romans 12:10 JB). We are to die to ourselves and sincerely long that our brothers will be regarded as greater and higher than ourselves—we even take our ‘robe,’ if necessary, to cover a brother's nakedness, wherever it is seen. Thus can we make our brothers glorious in the eyes of others. This is the kind of relationship we should have with one another in the body of Christ.
If we can have this kind of relationship, by all means we must.
Love, respect and awe—because Christ is in our midst.