Problems of humanity are caused by considering another person as different from self. The structure of a human being has got different limbs, for different purposes. But those body parts are similarly protected naturally, even though maintained for different functional reasons. The terms like “stranger,” should not exist in the consideration of human existence.
The apparently unsolvable problems are due to failure to understand that when hating another person, one, actually, hates himself. Substantially, one human being is not different from the next one. Physically, a person coming from one location would be viewed as different, by those of another location.
But the Spiritual origin of that person is not described by location. This is just as brothers from the same father protect one another, under normal conditions. Cain killed Abel, probably hoping that his life would be better, without his bother? The reflective answer to the question of murdering his brother was sheer madness.
Those living under sinful conditions are not controlled by reason. They are controlled by emotion. Because of that sin, Cain had to be separated from his clan. The blood of Abel would haunt Cain for the rest of his life. Cain’s story pictures the effects of sinful behaviour on humanity.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:8-12 NIV).
Separation is an indicator of death, as separation symbolizes death, among those occupying the same space. The sin of Cain required death, according to God’s law: “Whoever sheds human blood by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind”(Genesis 9:6 NIV).
The reason why Cain was not killed at the point of killing Abel, is not explained. But, obviously, God knows. The general living condition of humanity had been subjected to death. Cain was dead, due to Adam’s Sin. After killing his brother, Cain was to lead his life and that of his offspring, under a curse.
By killing his brother, Can, actually, killed himself. The life of a human being is miserable, until death. Life on earth is unpredictable. What mostly makes this life uncomfortable is the awareness of death, at some point.
“So I hated life because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labour under the sun. For a person may labour with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune” (Ecclesiastes 2:17-21 NIV).
There are misconceptions, concerning harmful acts against other fellow humans. Committing harmful acts against other people is another way of committing harmful acts against self. What is common is that people view those committing evil against others, as at an advantage. They sympathize more with the harmed. This is a result of ignorance, more than it should be regarded as a sense of justice. Hence, Jesus was misunderstood:
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:44-48 NIV).
Why is it necessary to love and pray for one’s persecutors, rather than one’s friends and associates? The message of Jesus does not connect with those of this world. In Zimbabwe, the unresolved, but most emotive debacle is Gukurahundi. Most people hold the view that the perpetrators are holding an advantage, as owing their victims, regarding the wrongs committed.
Looking at another person, regardless of gender, race or class, is like looking at yourself in the mirror. The reflection of God’s image cannot be found in any other way, except what can be observed of another fellow human being. The challenge that humans contend with is the inability to appreciate that the physical eyes are different from the spiritual eyes. God is Spirit and can only be seen spiritually.
“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”(1 John 4:19-21 NIV).
The apostle John says: “…whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” This could be one of the Scriptures that are misunderstood. But it is as clear as stating that God is not different from the other person, regardless of that person’s outlook.
Not many people pass for what is likeable in our physical eyes. Yet the Spiritual eyes guide, in appreciating that all humans were subjected to sin, making them behave wrongly. God loves them, nevertheless. He sent His only begotten Son to redeem humanity from their spiritual slavery or dungeon.
The Spiritual eyes see beyond what is physically observable. After killing his brother, Cain declared that he was not the keeper of his brother. That Scriptural episode pictures the degradation of humanity, after the Garden of Eden sin. God could have instantly killed Cain, after murdering his brother.
For reasons not understood by physical humans, God, whose love endures forever, allowed Cain to continue in his sinful condition. The plan of salvation had already been set for humanity’s redemption. The idea of killing sinners, without Christ, could not leave anyone alive. Yet, even today, sinners continue to roam around, mocking God and pretending all is well.
The maze of confusion ended, after the death of Jesus. Although the reason for Jesus’s death remains misunderstood, by many. The death of Jesus served to redeem humanity from the sin that caused Cain to kill his brother. The behaviour of Cain reflects the character of ordinary humanity.
Cain was religious, so as to make an offering of his farming products. Abel was also religious, as also giving an offering, according to his trade. The physical eyes cannot see what was wrong, except accusing God, for exercising favouritism. How could God favour Abel’s offering, ahead of Cain’s, in the first place?
The spiritual eyes can easily see the mystery, not observable by physical eyes. God looked at the attitude of the two givers. Physically, this manifested afterwards, leading to Cain’s murder of His brother. Jesus taught an aspect of giving that is different from what is ordinarily known.
That type of giving is embraced in secrecy so that givers cannot be appreciated in their benevolent actions. This type of giving, obviously, removes the attitudinal impression, coming with open giving. In this world of sin, who doesn’t want to be appreciated for doing what is good?
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”(Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).
The judgment, in this world, assumes that those who give more than others, deserve respect. This is different from God’s judgment on Cain. God looks at the attitude, more than the volume of whatever is given. As long as not giving in secret, the giver would be manifesting the sin of Cain.
The person might not be viewed as carrying the propensity to murder, but the murderous sin would be with him. In this world, there are those appearing as more privileged than others. Yet others appear as disadvantaged. This is a manifestation of sinfulness in this world.
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV).
The principle of giving that Jesus taught was not practised, in the above Scripture. What Jesus taught in Matthew 6:1-4 was meant for His disciples, only. Yet the giving in the above Scripture was ordinarily practised at the Temple. But, there is no record of Jesus ever enforcing what He taught to His disciples.
Only those believing in Jesus, feel compelled to obey Jesus, when inspired to give in that manner. Such people comprise the unknown believers who see the unseen. Ordinary people, like Cain, become offended, when not appreciated for their giving, or for rendering other services.
What overrides everything, is that another person is similar to the one in the mirror. The other person may be deeply ensconced in sin. But the same sinner would be a reflection of the person in the mirror, failing to be his brother’s keeper.
God’s image, demands that every human should be treated as a brother. There is no other foolishness, surpassing the claim of being in God’s image, yet failing to apply the principles of Godliness. When claiming to be Christian, one claims to be Christ-like. What can that sinner be compared with, when misrepresenting God?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”(John 3:16-17 NIV).
The message of loving one’s neighbour as self is intended for those claiming to be Christians. Such people are encouraged to reassess their Spiritual condition, as one cannot be a Christian, without God’s Spirit. It is understandable for the ignorant ones to hate themselves, by hating their fellow men. But, indeed, quite dangerous for those taking God’s name in vain.
“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”(Matthew 12:31-32 NIV).
Jesus introduced a way of life that is not for purposes of donning religiosity. He introduced what needs to be practised, as reflecting God’s behaviour. Jesus should be looked at, as our brother, whose mission was to enlighten humanity, steeped in sinfulness. It is sad that the modern-day Christian prefers to set aside what Jesus taught, by falsely making Him God. Yet Christ came to serve and not to be served.
Jesus is God’s image, but so are we supposed to be God’s image, by adopting God’s mind in our endeavours. The starting point is by viewing other people as if viewing ourselves. Their existence in sinfulness is a reflection of our own sinfulness, when, as Christians, we fail to be our brothers’ keepers.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99