Newsletter: January 20, 2016

Hello Church Family,

There is a great lie in our culture that I fear has crept into the church. This lie is that your life is your own business and no one else’s. This seeps into our mindsets and results in thoughts, attitudes, and actions that really want nothing to do with other people. We like to think of ourselves as independent, individually autonomous beings that do not need—let alone benefit from—others being involved in our lives.

To be sure, this is not a recent development. This lie has been told and believed ever since the Fall of mankind into sin and from grace with Adam, our forefather, in the Garden. It is as if they are saying, “Someone outside of me affected my decisions, therefore I cannot be held responsible. They are at fault.” While it was certainly wrong for Adam and Eve to shift blame and guilt away from themselves, do you see what their responses to God’s questions reveal? Our lives are affected by others. In this case, we know that both Adam and Eve should have rejected the influence of others by affirming their affections to God. But don’t forget that the very fact that God created Eve as a helper and companion for Adam demonstrates His design for mankind to live in community and interconnected relationships that naturally affect all involved. What God had designed for the good of man, Satan distorted for the destruction of man.

Let’s look at one more example less than a full chapter later. When Cain’s offering was rejected by God while Abel’s was accepted, God warned and encouraged Cain that if he would act as his brother had, his offering would be accepted. Here Abel is used as the positive example that was meant to show Cain what he needed to do differently. However, instead of seeing Abel’s acceptance as a blessing that was meant to teach him what he ought to do, instead of celebrating God’s continued grace and communion with man post-Fall, Cain—like his parents—chose to see communion as a curse and not a blessing.

Is it any wonder then, when Cain responds to God’s question by saying, “…am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain’s murdering of his brother had already shown his disregard for Abel’s life and in his words, he now makes it plain. Again, as Adam and Eve taught us, we are certainly responsible as individuals, but in another sense, the answer to Cain’s rhetorical question is “yes, you are your brother’s keeper.”

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to keep, watch over, guard, and protect one another. We know that we are all sinners saved by grace, but we also know that we are called to live holy and upright lives that mirror our heavenly Father and our perfect Savior. Furthermore, we know that we are battling our own flesh, meaning that in many ways we are our own worst enemies. If we are going to faithfully “keep” one another, we need to know ourselves, make ourselves known, and know one another intimately. Only then will we be enabled to love one another by pointing one another to Christ and His Gospel, specifically where we most need to hear it.

I know I am not there yet—but I want to be. It is both terrifying and liberating to think of pursuing the depth required for these kinds of relationships. This is one of the primary reasons God has brought His church together in order that we might grow in love and holiness together. Let us embrace His design and trust His kindness, goodness, and provision for us—even when our sin would lead us to believe otherwise.

Gentry