The Two Brothers
There were two young brothers who went to the same school. The younger of the two was clumsy and prone to hurting himself. Instead of trying to act tough, he would lay on the ground and cry, yearning for sympathy for his (often illegitimate) injuries. This occurred almost daily in the middle of the schoolyard. In contrast, the older brother was athletic, intelligent, and liked by all. He loved to obey the rules, which endeared him to students and teachers alike.
One day, the younger brother was on the ground in the yard crying and fussing, nursing his wounds. But today was different. Instead of the other kids just walking by, they began to tease him, and then pinch him, and then really try to hurt him. He was alone in the middle of this group of attackers. This only gave him more injuries to wail over and he felt more and more alone as those he thought to be his friends were mocking him.
But then the older brother approached the scene. With one word he could have called off those who were hurting his brother, but instead he observed what was happening and then ran in the other direction leaving his brother defenseless. He ran away priding himself in the fact that he was not the one hurting his brother, it was all those other bad kids.
And this situation happened once before, but on a much grander scale. There was a man traveling in a relatively dangerous part of the world. One day he was walking down a street that was known to be particularly dangerous. His worst fears materialized as a group of armed men approached, demanding all his money. He quickly gave them all that he had, hoping that was the end of it, but then they beat him badly, stripped him of his clothes, and left him unconscious.
Fortunately, a leader in his church walked by soon after the mugging. But this leader panicked. His eyes caught a glimpse of a bloodied hand sticking out from behind a rock. Without even thinking his feet hurried to the other side of the street. It is probably too late to do anything anyway. Honestly he did not give the situation a second thought, his mind distracted by searching for a sermon illustration for the coming Sunday.
A second man walked by and this was a man who happened to be from the victim’s hometown. Seeing that same bloodied hand he gasped. How could something like this happen? This city is terrible, full of crime that must be stopped. These thoughts rushed through his mind as his feet hurried to the other side of the street. Subconsciously he prided himself in being a moral member of society who would never do such a thing as hurt another person.
And then there is the story of mass murder that took place in a very powerful nation. This country prided itself in having washed its hands of prejudice. No longer was it acceptable to hire or fire someone based on his or her gender, race or sexual orientation. This country, once having once been guilty or enslaving another race, now hung its head in shame and sought at all costs to right those wrongs. This country was benevolent, welcoming refugees seeking asylum from oppressive governments, giving food to those experiencing famine, and sending relief to victims of natural disaster all over the world. This was a country of wealth, power, and change. A country that could dream of something, make it happen, and the rest of the world would follow. Yet, there was a lingering prejudice within the borders of this country: the prejudice against the size of a person. The laws were such that it was legal to murder those who were smaller, who were yet to be born.
As if that is not shocking enough, the oft-benevolent members of this society habitually looked the other way. Every day powerful lawyers passed by the buildings where it was legal to kill children rushing to work in order to battle for justice for those companies whose patents were being infringed upon. People with Christian bumper stickers avoided the streets with these killing-mills on them altogether. They hated this evil so much that they did not even want to see be around it. Pastors in churches loudly preached about loving refugees and fighting sex trafficking but hesitated to mention the killing of unborn children because they did not want to offend. The mass murder continues to this day…
Who is Guilty?
In the story of the two brothers, was the older brother innocent? In a sense he was innocent of mocking his brother because he simply did not participate in that action. He ran the other way. But what was he guilty of? He was guilty of a lack of love, a cold heart consumed with self-preservation rather then mercy, a heart that wanted to maintain his popularity. A heart that failed to put himself in his brothers shoes. He may have been innocent of one sin, but he was guilty of a multitude of others.
In the story of the man who was mugged, were the two men who walked to the other side of the street innocent? In the same way, they were innocent of the abuse this man suffered because they were not the ones who beat him up and took his money. Yet, the list of their other sins remains. They were self-consumed, merciless, and heartless.
As for the powerful nation who legalized the killing of children, were its citizens who voted against this practice innocent? Again, they are innocent of the crime of killing children, but they are far from innocent. They are guilty of letting apathy come into their hearts and choke out love for the helpless. They are guilty of trying to keep their hands from getting dirty in an attempt to rescue a few of these lives. They are guilty thinking more about self and reputation then about the sufferings of the oppressed. They are guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid of tolerance instead of being consumed and controlled by love itself.
As it says in James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” It is sin to do nothing when one knows the right thing to do. It is sin to walk by the suffering and look the other way. It is sin to think of self while others are mocked, or stripped naked, or beat-up, or pulled limb from limb.
Jesus said, “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.”