Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9
Recently, my husband was driving from our home to a construction job that was fairly close by. As he drove to his destination, he became aware of a young man driving a motorcycle very recklessly. The driver was popping wheelies, speeding, driving back and forth on the busy street and passed my husband and another driver on the right side of their vehicles. The father-side of my husband contemplated pulling over to talk with the young man and encourage him to drive more carefully but he then decided not to interfere. Shortly after, my husband heard sirens as he was working outside at a job not too far from where he had encountered the young cyclist. We later found out the driver of the motorcycle had run a stop sign while speeding. He ran into a pickup truck who had the right of way at the intersection. The young 17-year-old was killed on impact. My husband was pretty shaken up and questioned me, “What if I would have stopped to talk to him as I considered doing? Would that young man still be alive? No one could know the answers to those questions. We grieved for the young man and we both came away from that experience wanting to live our lives in such a way that those kind of questions would not be necessary.
We asked ourselves, what kind of changes do we need to make to be more aware and activated to the needs of those around us. We know the Bible is pretty clear that we are our brother’s keeper. Just as God asked Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?”, He asks us about our interactions with those around us. No where is this mutual obligation between people more obvious than in Luke 10:25-37. In this passage, Jesus clarifies the greatest commandments, Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, strength, and mind AND Love your neighbor as yourself. When Jesus is asked, “Who is our neighbor?”, He tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which a man is attacked by robbers, beaten, stripped and left half dead. A priest and Levite pass by the man without helping him. A Samaritan, from a race despised by the Jews, stops, tends to the man’s wounds and then cares for him until he is recovered. At the end of the parable, Jesus reverses the question back on the questioner by asking, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell in the hands of the robbers?” The questioner answers, “The man who showed compassion.” To this Jesus replies, “Go and do likewise.”
And so our hearts’ desire is to go and do likewise. But to be honest, for my husband and I, it can be a little overwhelming to look beyond the needs that reside just within our home. “Coincidentally”, I came upon the following painting as we were contemplating how we could “Go and do likewise.” It is from a series of paintings entitled My Christian Soldiers by Dawn Hudson. This one is called Samaritan Soldiers.
I was so encouraged by the painting because it made me realize we do not have to do this alone. We are part of an army! (TANGENT WARNING: but not a big one: The painting reminded me of The Salvation Army, which William Booth and his wife started in 1865. It was originally called the East London Christian Mission but the story goes that at a meeting of its leaders, someone said that they were like a great volunteer army, to which Booth replied something like: I am not a volunteer for I am compelled to do what I do. We are not a volunteer army, we are a Salvation Army. In 1878, the organization became known as the Salvation Army.) We don’t have to single-handedly meet every need. Rather we can partner with powerfully effective organizations that are already on the battle front. There are so many facets to those who need our help and with few exceptions someone has already established an organization with which we can partner to meet every kind of need. Nationally, for children and youth from underprivileged families there is Big Brother, Big Sister and Boys and Girls Clubs. (Locally we have Ignite Youth Mentoring (CLICK HERE for their website.) For the elderly and shut-ins, there is Meals on Wheels. For the homeless and financially struggling, there is Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, Hope Clinic and Angel Food. These organizations and many like them are all just a phone call away and no doubt they are praying for reinforcements.
The other day I was surfing the web and came across a ministry that delivers furniture and food to local families in need. Their organization is called My Brother’s Keeper, but delivery vans are all white so as not to bring any embarrassment to the recipients of their compassion. It started in 1988 with a couple serving families in need out of the basement of their home after they were moved by an encounter with Christ. Today, their work is carried out by 2,000+ volunteers and 6 full-time employees working from a modern 15,000 square foot operations center. They complete 7,000 deliveries each year and over the past 22 years, they have made 95,000 total deliveries across eastern Massachusetts. With each delivery they present a crucifix or some reminder of Christ and say “We’re just the delivery people… this is the man who sent you the furniture.” (CLICK HERE to view their website.) I was so inspired by their story that I would like to leave you with the founding couple’s prayer.
My Brother’s Keeper Prayer
When I have food, Help me remember the hungry.
When I lie in my bed, Help me remember those who sleep on the floor.
When I have a warm home, Help me remember the homeless.
When I have work, Help me remember those without jobs.
When I experience the joy of giving to my children, Help me remember the agony of those who must watch their children go without.
By remembering, Help me destroy my indifference and arouse my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to act in your name, to help those who cry out to you
for that which I so often take for granted.
Jim and Terry Orcutt, Founders of My Brother’s Keeper
May we go and do likewise. LH
“JUST SAY KNOW” Bible Study
To view this week’s Bible Study on “My Brother’s Keeper” CLICK HERE.