Who Is My Brother?
It happened again. Less than a week after a Planned Parenthood office was shot up in Colorado Springs, two other gunmen struck in San Bernardino, CA yesterday. As it always does, the shooting sparked another raging debate about gun control in our culture. This post is not about gun control. And if you must know, I support the 2nd amendment. I think taking guns away from the citizenry is covered in chapter 1 of "Dictatorships for Dummies." Growing up in rural Mississippi, I knew a lot of people who owned guns. And as soon as I can find out whatever became of my dad's shotgun, I aim to reclaim it, if only for nostalgia's sake.
No, this post is not about gun control, but I'd like to offer up a concern that I have. If we are not careful, it is painfully easy to lose our humanity in these situations. I get that vomity taste in my mouth when the media makes these shootings about gun control and politicians start posturing in one direction or the other. The media and politicians are Examples A and B of what it looks like to lose your humanity.
But you know what's worse? Seeing Christians on social media become vitriolic about protecting the second amendment. Listen, I agree with you. But surely you would agree with me that something is wrong when our society equates Christianity and the church with a pro-gun culture. I don't like those optics. And don't get me started about Christians who get hot and bothered when the Bill of Rights is being trashed, but remain blase about the gospel.
Again, it is painfully possible to lose our humanity in times like these. How do I know that? Because it seems like every synagogue he entered, Paul was eventually evicted by the Jews, and sometimes violently. Paul was beaten by Jews and left for dead, falsely accused in the courts, and plotted against. We know of at least one assassination attempt on Paul by the Jews. And do you think they did this because they were Jews? You think a lack of bacon in one's diet makes a person more violent? No, they did these things to Paul because they were an historically oppressed minority, religiously devout, who believed their faith and way of life were being threatened (remind you of anyone?). Mix that up in a bowl, and you get a people who have lost touch with their humanity.
Again, it is painfully possible to lose our humanity in times like these. How do I know that? Because in the aftermath of murdering his brother, God asked Cain, "Where is your brother, Abel?" To which Cain uttered the famous reply, "Am I my brother's keeper?" We marvel at the callousness of Cain's response, but in v. 7, God had warned Cain that sin sought to devour him if he were not careful. God knew that fear and anger and jealousy were creating a toxic mess in Cain's heart that would only end in murder if unchecked. Long before he butchered his brother, Cain lost a sense of his humanity by giving place to fear and anger.
Again, it is painfully possible to lose our humanity in times like these. How do I know that? Because I've sat in church business meetings that spent more time discussing how to fix the air conditioning or the church van or the what tile to put in the newly renovated kitchen or which way the stripes in the parking lot need to run or which pest control service to use than anything relating to anyone's soul or spiritual well-being. If we are not careful, we in the church can lose a sense or humanity, as well as a sense of what is ultimately important.
Again, it is painfully possible to lose our humanity in times like these. How do I know that? Because in the aftermath of the attacks on Paris, I found myself wondering why I'm not bothered by bombings in Beirut or Jerusalem or Baghdad as I am France or New York. I was taught as a child that Jesus loves all the children of the world. But I fear that I have begun to believe that he loves Western kids more, and Republican WASP kids even more. For all I know, Jesus might love Republican WASPs who attend the church of Christ most of all, though I very much doubt it.
The next time a shooting occurs and you see the media instantly blaming a (as they see it) out-of-control gun culture, I want you to resist the urge to fire back on social media. And maybe not share that article from the clearly-biased right-wing political blog? Instead, could I encourage you to pray with me that we not lose our humanity in the face of violence? Could you do me a favor and pause for a moment to think how Christ would want us to respond to tragedy? Would you be willing to pause and resist the urge to give the world one more reason to associate "out-of-control gun culture" with "Christian" or "church" or "Bible belt"?
Heavenly Father, we are brokenhearted by the violence in our world. Father, as your people, we feel threatened often. We have been oppressed throughout our history as your people, yet you have never forsaken us. Help us never to forget that. Help us not to lose our humanity in times like these. Helps us to love others as you have loved us. Help us to remember that the kingdom of heaven is not one of guns or rants or violence or fear, but of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit. And may the world not associate violence or fearmongering with the church, but rather equate us with the very definition of sacrificial love, unspeakable joy, and a peace that passes all understanding. In the name of Jesus... **Discover other great resources like this article on our mobile app.**
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