Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Brother's Keeper

(Gen 2:15)

(Gen 3:24)

(Gen 4:9)

וְאַתָּ֖ה אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֣י תִשְׁמֹ֑ר 
(Gen 17:9)

I can't count the amount of times I've heard the argument that religion is the cause of the worst kind of hatred and conflict.

The truth is we don't know how to talk about this stuff. We use the word "religion" as a bracket. We juxtapose it with words like "spirituality" or "realism" or "science" or "freedom", not understanding that we limited the meaning of all of them and made them all enemies.

But the Christian message is a message of hope and truth, that there is a God and he cares about his creation. The first "job" that man has in the book of Genesis is to take care of the earth and to take care of each other, to be its "keeper" or "guard" or "watchman". God entrusts us to one another and we really have to look out for one another or this is not going to work. Our "common ground" is not merely that we exist but that our identity is of brothers and sisters with a common "father" who have an absolute responsibility over one another and the earth as a whole. We choose violence but it's against our first call to "keep", "guard", and "watch". God sends His Son when we refuse to be reconciled with God and our greater calling.

The thing is, even if you hate religion and faith and all that, it's your calling to care for one another and this world we live in. I sincerely and respectfully believe that you are mistaken if you slash God out of that view of things, but you know the call and you've felt it whenever you've stood up for someone or tried to build up your community or tried to save the earth. I'd love to talk about God and faith, but if you really won't we can still talk about taking care of one another and this world we live in. We can work towards that.

Blame religion all you want, but every extremist will eventually have to answer for how they betrayed what they said they stood for. Their contradictions will be laid bear and their calloused consciences will eventually be cut.

So right now, when you read about Christians being killed for being Christians, maybe don't section that reality off because they don't share your view of the world. They are human and they are not simply being discriminated against or bullied or economically or socially disadvantaged, as terrible as those things are. They are being murdered and their blood is as valuable as any other person who dies because someone stopped "keeping" or "guarding" or "watching" over one another and started treating them as less than whatever is alive on this earth.

All you have to do is care about this unless you can do more than that, in which case you should.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 
(Gen 2:15 NRS)

He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life. 
(Gen 3:24 NRS)

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" 
(Gen 4:9 NRS)

God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 
(Gen 17:9 NRS)

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