Am I my Brother’s Keeper?

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while - all this year in fact. Life has been a bit tough - which I might tell you about at some stage. But also, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying, and the stuff I was thinking and praying isn’t easy to write about in the relatively short format of a blog post. Maybe, sometime, when I’ve 'got my ducks in a row’, I’ll tell you about it in a series of posts.

Anyway, here’s a recent, simple, thought…

Starting with the story of Cain and Abel in the early part of the book of Genesis.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know, ” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Genesis 4:9

We won’t go into the detail of why Cain murdered Abel, but afterwards Cain tried to cover up his sin by claiming ignorance of Abel’s whereabouts. Of course Cain knew exactly where Abel’s body was. But when God approached Cain and asked where his brother was, Cain responded with this outright lie: “I don’t know.” He then compounded this by being sarcastic with God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain’s actions, and words, are the antithesis of what we expect of other people - especially, I would say, other Christians.

Instead, we are called to:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 30-31

This is explained and amplified in all sorts of places in scripture, but this leapt out at me:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3-4

A phrase sprang to mind out of nowhere, and I shared it in church one recent Sunday evening:

We are all just walking each other home.

We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, vulnerable... We’re all imperfect human beings: we make mistakes; we do things wrong; we make bad decisions; we place ourselves in danger; sometimes events, the world, conspire against us and we end up in dark places. That’s just the way it is. But when we have friends journeying with us through life - true friends, those who care enough to ‘pull us up short’ when we might be about to do something risky, or who accompany us into the dark places - life becomes better and safer - because we have friends alongside us ‘walking us home’ - making sure we each get where we’re going and aren’t, metaphorically speaking, in danger of being dragged off into the bushes and mugged on the way...

Then, perhaps, we begin to see the truth of Isaiah’s words:

And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35: 8-10

I couldn’t get through life without my church family; they - you - mean so much to me. Actually, not just my church family - there are others out there too, who don’t believe the same as me, but who, nonetheless, are in that category of ‘walking each other home'.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2020