I can think of four or five off the top of my head.
“Don’t hit your brother.”
“Don’t throw the remote.”
“Get off the table.”
“No, you can’t have Oreo’s before bed.”
As parents we have our lines that we hit on a daily basis, instructions that must be repeated over and over. We try to instill a sense of right and wrong in our kids and create a moral compass. Life isn’t always black and white, though, and we pray they have that gut instinct and relationship with us and God that will lead them on the right path.
The conflict lines don’t ever go away, they just change tone. Some of the hardest challenges we face, growing up and as adults, are the moments we are called to live by our beliefs. Conversations happen and you feel the pressure.
Do you go with the flow or do you make a stand?
I faced one of these situations this afternoon.
In Genesis, we find the story of Cain and Abel. Abel finds the favor of God and Cain does not. Frustration builds and, in an instant, you have the first murder. Imagine the power. The first time, in all of creation, that a life is taken at the hands of someone else. This is the precursor to the violence, wars, destruction, and death to follow. The first-born human child had committed the first murder.
Cain kills Abel in the fields. God shows up and asks him, “Hey, where is your brother Abel?”
His reply is one of the most powerful statements in recorded history.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
When I was a student teacher in 10th grade English, we did a unit centered on this question. Am I my brother’s keeper? Should I care about my fellow humans? Is it my job to make a difference?
Cain could have fessed up to his crime. He decides to deny it and God levies a punishment of work and banishment. Cain worries about being killed and God offers assurance.
Despite his actions, he is protected.
Always remember, we will be tested. You’ll find yourself in the midst of a questionable situation, a “dark alley” with snares around every corner. Your response is key. Know that you are never alone.
If you take the wrong path, there is grace to be found. No one is too far gone and no sin is too great. I believe God knew what Cain would do in the field that afternoon. He walked that ground before any blood fell.
He let Cain walk away.
Tonight, if you find yourself facing one of these choices, know who you are and where you stand. If you’ve taken the wrong road, there is a way back. There is power in claiming our identity. Jesus said, “I am who you say I am.”
We are believers. We are husbands, wives, and parents. We are writers, activists, and thinkers. It is our job to do what is right.
We are our brother’s keeper.