In response to the killings by police of two black men and of five police by one black man I posted Part 1. Since then there has been another act of terror in France where eighty-four innocents were mowed down by a crazed terrorist in a truck. I can do no better than to echo the lament of the prophet:
“How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence!’ I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see this sin and misery all around me? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed and useless, and there is no justice given in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, and justice is perverted with bribes and trickery.” Habakkuk 1:1-4
You’ll notice that, as is often the case, I misjudged how many words I would be compelled to use about this. So now it’s a three part tirade.
Last time I compared our country’s week of hate crimes to Cain’s hate and homicide of his brother Abel in Genesis 4. In a preemptive strike, God approached murderous Cain with questions:
- “Why are you angry?
- “Why is your face downcast?”
- “If you do what is right will you know be accepted?”
His gallant effort to prevent the worst notwithstanding, Cain held to his plan to lure Abel into the field, murder him, and bury the body. Again, God came with questions, the first of which is the one most on my mind these days, the one that I hope we’ll hear him say to us American Christians…
“Where is your brother?”
Many of us wouldn’t know how to answer the Lord’s inquiry, because we don’t know where our brother is. We’ve forgotten where he is. We put our brothers and sisters so far out of our minds we have lost all track of him and her. We buried our brother someplace and we don’t remember that we even had a brother. That was the point of burying him in the first place; covering him up with earth so we can forget him and what we’ve done to him.
I suggest that most of us don’t know where our brothers and sisters are because we’ve forgotten who our brothers and sisters are!
“Where is your brother?”
Cain killed his brother! That’s the most shocking fact of the story. That he killed anyone was horrible, especially since it was the very first murder in human history. But he killed his brother, his own flesh and blood!
I guess we could say that it’s inevitable that it was a brother that he killed. There were no other choices. There might have existed other family members at that point that weren’t mentioned, obviously he had at least one sister with which to procreate, but even so, any other people would all have been related to Cain in some way. All he had was a brother (or more than one).
Abel and Cain were connected by blood. They were related to each other. Did you know that all of us humans share 99% of the same DNA? No matter how different we look, it’s only the 1% that differentiates us. The redheaded man with green eyes and white skin from Norway and black-skinned woman with wooly hair from sub-saharan Africa are genetically linked. Their differences are cosmetic and trivial. They’re brother and sister!
So, as Cain’s crime was against a brother, so are any that we hate or hurt. There are no other choices. We’re all related and all our crimes against each other are against family members!
Of all people, we followers of Jesus should be able to see how each of us is related to everyone else on the planet. We’re connected by blood, by common humanity, by our common parentage. We’re all “brothers and sisters.” The Creator connects us all by the image he stamped indelibly on each of us humans.
To the theology police out there, I’ll be quick to say, no, we don’t all share the divine nature, imparted at new birth. But each human shares with all other humans the divine image along with the divine love that goes with that image. Though we revel in the special common bond we have with fellow second-born family members, we also celebrate the union we have with all our first-born kin. Or do we?
If the Lord were to come and ask you, “Where is your brother?” what would you say? Cain’s answer was both tragic and telling. It’s the most well-known line in the whole story, the most often quoted even in secular conversation.