2009-10-13 - My Brothers Keeper
Warning: There will be some graphic depictions in this devotional.
Genesis 4:9 (NASB) Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
Ever since Cain disavowed any responsibility for his brother Abel, we mortals have tried to deny our role in taking care of the vulnerable people around us.
During World War II in Germany , millions yes millions of precious Jewish souls - died at the hands of the Nazis, because of their Jewish heritage. Some were executed in gas chambers, and then their body parts were used to make soap and lamps. Some perished of hunger, while others were worked to death. Many church leaders in Germany were aware of these atrocities, but turned their heads and didnt speak out. Some brave souls, such as Deitrich Bonhoeffer, did stand up to the regime, and paid with their lives. But too many remained mute, leaving their vulnerable and helpless fellow human beings alone, in their time of need. (Thankfully Karl Barth and other courageous church leaders did write a related Barmen Declaration, taking a stand against the Nazis. If you want further info on this, please let me know.)
Sometimes we think that tragedy of such devastating and mass proportions could take place today, in our world in 2009. But sadly, that would be incorrect. In Congo alone (an African country), due to malnutrition, war etc., almost 50,000 people a month are dying. Thats the number of an average-sized town in America every month. And in fact, every night in the US, children go to bed hungry. In our own backyard, our brothers and sisters are in need. Do I think everyone should be subsidized without any means test? Absolutely not; that would be unBiblical. See Thessalonians 3:10. That breeds overdependence, which is actually not helpful to the empowerment of those helped. Not to mention that its poor stewardship, leaving less for those in dire need.
And to be sure, there is genuine need around us. Just as Henri Nouwen used to lose sleep over the needs of his brothers and sisters in Third World countries - and as the Apostle Paul told us to consider the problems of others, to be our own - so should we look to the interests of those who dont have basic provisions.
And the crowds asked [John the Baptist], "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." (NRSV, Luke 3:10-11)
I challenge you all, along with myself, to ask God to guide us to our roles. Perhaps it is simply prayer; I put that in quotes, since its really the most important and powerful thing we do, of course! Or maybe your role is to volunteer one day a month at a food bank. Conceivably some of us are called to write letters to our local or national politicians when we feel its needed, and I mean individual letters, not form letters or petitions, which I have read are basically powerless. There are so many ways we can get involved in being our brothers keeper, from taking part in hunger walks, to lending a listening ear to someone who is hurting, to mentoring a child or teaching an adult to read - helping them to help themselves. If you ask Him to, God will lead you to a role that matches up with your gifts, with the person that He created you to be. And I would love to hear about that, when it happens.