I spent only nineteen months of my life sister-free. Shortly after the first one was born, my parents added another, and then another, leaving our house severely overloaded with estrogen. Until I was ten, even our dogs were girls! And along with my three biological sisters, I’ve accrued several honorary ones over the years, from older women in my church to best friends that literally seem to read my mind.
All that to say, I’m hardly lacking for sisters. So it was a surprise to me to find that sisterhood is an incredibly hard thing to write about. I scrapped draft after draft as I quickly became disillusioned with the whole thing. After all, the very phrase “sisters in Christ” smacks of Christianese. By definition, if you’re a girl and you’re a Christian, you’re my sister in Christ. Yet doesn’t calling every Christian girl “sister” cheapen the very idea of sisterhood? Isn’t it like calling every friend your best friend – a dilution of the term that makes what once meant everything mean nothing at all?
This would be true if the phrase “sisters in Christ” only implied relational closeness. In fact, if this were to be the case, we ought to immediately strike the phrase from our collective vocabulary. Calling every Christian woman a sister in Christ because it sounds nice, or elevates her above a mere friend, truly would cheapen sisterhood.
Yet what this reading of the phrase misses is that we, as Christian women, are not sisters simply because we are friends. We are all sisters because we were all adopted by the same Father.
Have you ever thought about what it means that God adopted us as children of the King?
It means that He not only freed us from slavery to sin, but adopted us as heirs. You see, the Gospel begins at our unrighteous unworthiness to inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Despite this unworthiness, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” justifying us by his blood (Romans 5:8-9).
However, the Gospel does not stop there. Not only did God justify us, but “in love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons [those who receive an inheritance] through Jesus Christ, according to his glorious will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). He “sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” – and if we are sons, then we are heirs (Galatians 4:4-5, 7). The phrase “sister in Christ” is not cheap at all; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It came at the price of Jesus’s blood.
The reason that we can call every single Christian girl a sister in Christ – whether or not we’ve met them, whether or not we get along – is because God looks at every single one of us and calls us daughters.
Leah and Ana are not my sisters because we are best friends who happen to be Christians. Leah and Ana are my sisters because we are daughters of the Most High King. Even if they had never moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia, or even if we had lost touch after high school, we would still be sisters.
Sisterhood in Christ is not braided hair or a delivery of ice cream after a breakup. It is not a movie night or a face mask, not a late-night talk or a long hug. Sisterhood in Christ flows entirely from our status as children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). This is godly sisterhood, that though you may be related by blood to only a handful of sisters, you are by grace related to billions more.
So, sister, I rejoice that you are here, but more than that, I rejoice that together we are adopted into God’s eternal family. I rejoice in our Father’s grace lavished upon us in love, and I rejoice that this grace allows us to call one another by the name of “sister” – a name that is anything but cheap.