Monday, July 13, 2015

Am I my brother's keeper?

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.  And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?  And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. (Genesis 4:8-10))

What we can learn from a Homeless Man

Scripture above records a very perverted account of a relationship between two brothers. And depending on how we perceive the scripture to interpret brotherhood,  we may very well be playing out  this murder of our brothers over and over again. 

The thing that metaphysically calls us Cains is our  defining of the word brother.  How we answer the question  "Who is my brother?" makes a different in the level of hypocrisy in which we walk out our Christian faith. 

Do we limit brotherhood to those that share my immediate parents; or those the share my personal opinions; or those that share Christian beliefs? Or is brotherhood something greater?

Yesterday, I stood in the foyer of our church sanctuary speaking to two of the brothers there. One spoke from his heart the love he had for those less fortunate, and why he has been so faithful in doing all he could to help them. The other brother spoke of our need to do more.

I contemplated a time when I was likewise faithful, not long ago when the ordinances of justice were the badge of my Christianity (Isaiah 58:1-9 . It’s not that I thought giving to my brother made me a better Christian, but that I felt that giving to my brother was a byproduct of who I was as a Christian. But somehow I had gotten away from loving my brother, fallen in the perverted abyss of my needs and my quality of life, and my stuff and my  feelings and my opinions.  And because I failed to do what I knew was right, James 4:17  as I spoke to these brothers in Christ  the Holy Spirit was twisting the sword of my spiritual guilt right through my very heart.   John 16:8 

On the street of Philadelphia, one of the largest homeless communities in the United States, we see our brothers every day, trying to invoke our mercy and remind us of our alms with cardboard signs that sum up the issues of their frustrations. Not every one of our brothers in need are crazy or  drug addicts, though even if they were, our responsibility would not change. But the signs don't invoke our love for them, they ignites our disdain for those who need us. yeah some of use will give a quarter, or if exceptionally generous a dollar. Where most of swerve into the far lane causing the driver next to us to nearly crash just so the we can avoid our brothers.

We justify our failure to give alms, by saying things like; 
 “I don’t have any change” or “they will only use the money for drugs or alcohol” Or the always pious “I’ll buy them something to eat, but I won’t give the money” yet we can’t remember when the last time we actually bought  our Brother in need something to eat. 

Today, many Philadelphians justify their lack of care for their brothers on Mayor Nutter’s  ban on giving money to  our brothers,  or  feeding our brothers on street corners and on taking  food into the parks so that our brothers can have a warm meal. Proverbs 14:3 , Proverbs 29:7   What type of administration bans helping your Brother? the irony is that we are called the City of Brotherly Love

However the saddest thing I have ever seen is when my brother was at the corner of Bridge and Pratt and he asked a man getting off the train could he have the rest of whatever the man was eating. The man spat in  my brother's face then, took the food out of the paper bag and threw it into the trash can uncovered to avoid giving it to my brotherPsalm 14:6

The Bible clearly teaches that we are our brother’s keeper, though a perverted world teaches otherwise.  We look to Leviticus 25:35 which says if your brother become poor and is unable to take care of himself, help him.  However, this responsibility was not given to us as a burden,  rather that the mercy and grace of God might be realized by all of our family,  on this side of  our Father's glory.

If we take the doctrine of Christianity as true, and apply it to the inclusivity of a fallen world, whereby we all share the same original parents; the same original sin; and the same need for salvation, grace, and mercy. If we truly apply the tenets of our faith unequivocally to all mankind, then no one can deny this truth. That our brother is the man, the women and the child who has fallen down and needs us not to look down on him, but to reach down to him and to pull him up. 

Your Brother in Christ