One lesson I believe we can all learn from this unprecedented time of ‘lock down’ is that we are (or at least should be) our ‘brothers keeper!’
We live in a very independent society that struggles to give up individual liberty for the sake of others. There is a very common secular train of thought that goes ‘you can do anything you want as long as you don’t harm others ’ but this current pandemic has, by enforcing social distancing, made all of us act on behalf of others, to take a certain responsibility for ‘your brother’, so to say.
I am talking about the government’s message ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives!’ but actually I want to encourage all of you who follow Jesus to continue in your hearts and attitudes to be your brother’s and sister‘a keepers! To stand in the gap, and be prepared to take responsibility for others not just for yourself.
In Genesis 4, God enquires of Cain ‘where is your brother Abel?’ Cain having recently killed his brother out of jealousy responds with the words ‘I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?’
Cain’s words have come to symbolize people’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellow human beings. The story of the Gospel is that Jesus took responsibility for ‘his brothers’ shortcomings (that’s all of ours) so that we can live in the wide open spaces of God’s goodness. But this is on the condition that we too are prepared to extend that grace to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we would in some way take on responsibility for them.
One of the easiest ways to duck this responsibility and exclaim in a loud voice ‘’am I my brother’s keeper!?’ is criticism. We live in a very critical culture where rather than take any responsibility or ownership for issues, criticism places the responsibility for them firmly on the shoulders of anyone else. Criticism is the opposite of taking responsibility, the opposite of being your brother’s keeper!
This is why Jesus taught ‘behaviours of grace’ like, ‘turn the other cheek’ ‘Go the extra mile’ and ‘love your enemies.’ He taught these at length not for the sake of our enemies but to help us to break the learned pattern of behaviour of always looking out for our own personal justices and freedoms, but instead to allow God’s ultimate justice and freedom to reign and bring peace into our lives.
I encourage you, take responsibility today, don’t judge, look for ways to love and look out for your fellow brothers and sisters!
Galatians 5:13-14 | NIV You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
A daily devotion for a better way of living.