Home > John's Blogs, Triangular Christianity > Am I My Brother’s Keeper (2)

Am I My Brother’s Keeper (2)

A few days after I posted on Cain’s question to God here, I was reading Christopher Wright’s book Walking in the Ways of the Lord. I said in my earlier post that we are responsible for watching out for our brothers and sisters, but Wright says something a little different. His was a valuable insight, and it is causing me to rethink what I said earlier.

Wright says that viewing ourselves as having a relationship with our fellow Christians is mere humanism. Instead, he says that the Bible “…does not put our obligation primarily on a horizontal plane, but rather directs it upward to God” (p. 251).

In other words, it is not simply a person’s relationship with other people that is important. It is the fact that we are responsible to God for other people. I considered myself responsible to other people because of God. Wright reorients me – I am responsible to God, and He makes me responsible for others.

Wright gathers this from the fact that God is the one asking “Where is your brother?” God asks this because Abel’s blood cries out to God Himself. Cain was guilty – not of failing in his responsibility to Abel, but of failing in his responsibility to God (which would manifest itself as a responsibility for Abel).

Wright is helpful in understanding the story. According to Wright, when Cain asks the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” the answer is still yes (as I said in my earlier post). But for a different reason. I am my brother’s keeper NOT because my relationship to him demands it, but because my relationship to God demands it.

The relationship between me, my brother (or sister), and God remains triangular. But Wright gives me a better motivation, and it is a motivation consistent with the themes of 1 John. We love our fellow believers because of God’s love for us, and we are responsible to them only because we are ultimately responsible to Him. Thus, failing our brother or sister is not failing another person – it is failing God.

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