"My Brothers Keeper." This phrase has become extremely popular for Bible studies, sermon series, tattoos, and even had its own viral hash tag a year ago. But how many people take it seriously? How many people know what it truly means to be “My Brother’s Keeper?” The results I see coming out of this movement are all good and done with great intentions, but are they fulfilling one of the first stupid questions in history? Remember Cain’s question?
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
Of course we are our Brother’s Keeper, the notion that we are not is so ridiculous that God doesn’t even respond to the question by Cain. The Lord just moves on with his declaration of Cain’s failure and the consequences of his sin. We are created, made by God’s very own hand for relationship. Relationship with our Lord, with our Lord’s creation, and with the neighbor our Lord has placed around us. We are created with a purpose, a purpose of relationship, a purpose of being a reflection of Christ Jesus and His love to everyone and everything around us.
If the answer is easy, then how is it fulfilled? It should be easy right? We see people helping those around them by serving as volunteers at soup kitchens, taking part in races to raise money for a good cause, and serving in their churches and communities. These are great acts. But does this satisfy our command and purpose of being our Brother’s Keeper? Does this fulfill the command to love your neighbor?
Let me remind you of the answer Jesus gave.
“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)
Our outward acts to help the strangers who surround our daily lives and even those around the world are great. Giving money to these things is great. But does this in and of itself fulfill the command? Those who passed by the Samaritan look down on him as a stranger and not someone who lives up to their standards. But look at your life, are you any different? You may contribute to this fund, serve food on holidays, or even run a 5k for a cause, but what about your neighbor? What about those who surround you every day? What about your purpose of relationship and reflection of Christ?
Are there those who surround your everyday life that are struggling? Are there those around you trying to mask the pain they are in? Are there those around you who need the reflection of Christ but you find yourself too busy, too tired, too tapped out to give more? Do you walk by those you know, assuming someone else will care for them if they are in pain? Do you pass on the opportunity to lend a helping hand, introduce yourself, or even smile at others because your life is set and going pretty well? Or maybe it is because you have your own problems to worry about.
My Brother’s Keeper… Love Your Neighbor… These truly are great slogans. But what do they really mean? Do we really understand what is involved?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Do we have love for our neighbor? Do we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Romans 12:1)? Last night I was once again awakened to the need our brothers, sisters, and neighbors have for the love of Christ. They do not need the love of Christ poured out when we are more rested, more fed, more successful, or doing better financially. They need it now; they need it tomorrow; they need in consistently, constantly, and always. They need it from us. They need us to fulfill our purpose. They need us to be vessels of the Holy Spirit, to be reflections of Christ to all of creation.
I know it is hard. It always seems to present itself when the big game is on, when a big project is due, or when we just need a nap. I struggle with this daily, so I understand. But remember, our purpose is to reflect Christ, this very same Jesus Christ who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), or at the very time we needed it, not when it was convenient. This is what we are called to do according to the purpose for which we were created. But what does this look like? What is love for our neighbor? What does it mean to be our brother’s keeper? Let’s take a look at the One who fully fulfilled this purpose.
"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Now from the sixth hour] there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:27-54
As Red Hornets we are family. As Red Hornets we come together to be a reflection of this love. A love so strong that it held our Lord and Savior to a cross of humiliation. It was a cross upon which He had no business being. Yet Jesus sacrificed himself for you and me, so that we may have eternal life. He granted us our faith in this sacrifice and provided us the opportunity to then serve others. The gift of this sacrifice, of this faith, has provided us the awesome privilege to reflect Christ’s love in caring for those around us, and those around the world.
It is my hope that we as Red Hornets will work to be more aware of the need for Christ’s love that surrounds us at all times. That we will offer ourselves as living sacrifices to our Lord by serving our neighbor. It is my prayer that I can be an example to our students and families of this purpose and calling.