Sheep, Goats, And Consequences

In Genesis, Cain asks of God “…am I my brother’s keeper?” This reminds me of the Pharisee who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Now most of us disciplined in the “old school” knew better than to respond to a parent’s question with another question that clearly defies the first question. So what we have here is a precedent in Cain’s interchange with God as a futile attempt to be “grown.” Those of us who at one time made such a bold attempt probably remember that it wasn’t the smartest of things to do and suffered the consequence. Besides, who among us today dares ask if God is our keeper? Cain’s consequence was rather severe. Thus, it seems clear to me that Cain’s response was the wrong answer and consequently it would be the wrong answer for us as well. I believe we were created to live in relationship with God and each other, to build up one another in Christ, not to destroy. Destruction is the goal of the enemy. The Gospel also shares with us the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats where the care and consideration of others is a major characteristic of those who live into the life of Christ. We are expected to share both our joys and our disappointments with one another that we may encourage each other and hold them up to Christ who also shared our suffering and reward. Upon hearing his fate, Cain feared for his life, yet God spared him and he was left wandering. That to me is no way to live. For me, to be my brother and sister’s keeper neither makes me an enabler nor a socialist politico. Rather, for me it does mean that it is important to recognize that along with the gifts God has given each of us, we all have needs and shortcomings. Our relationship to one another should help to fill the gaps that only being in relationship can fulfill. Being in relationship is what helps what we do and say have meaning. God’s question to Cain, “Where is your brother?” eludes to the fact that this kind of relationship was meant to be on purpose. Remembering the consequence of Cain’s response I ask, “Am I my brother and sister’s keeper? Are you?

Brother’ Keeper; Our Relationship With The Son; Sheep and Goats