Right now I am reading the book “Questions God Asks,” by Hunter Beckelhymer. It was written in 1961. Except for the a few words that were commonly used to label people and God (labels that have changed since then), you might not realize the book is that old. I’m going to quote a couple of pages of the book on one of the questions God asks – “Where is your brother?” Pg. 37-39.
(I’m quoting it word for word here, so you’ll have to excuse the gender and race language. These are the author’s words – read for the point being made, and don’t get caught in the details of the language from a bygone era).
The Lord said to Cain, ” Where is your brother?” And in the riven relationships of our tortured humanity God addresses that same question to us. Where is your brother in his search for a decent human life, and in his efforts to feed and shelter himself and his family? How is your brother making out in his search for the technical knowledge that will open to him the gates of plenty, and for deeper knowledge that will give meaning to his life and efforts? Can your brother read and write? Why not? Where is your brother in his struggle to gain the dignity, and rights, and opportunities which you daily enjoy? Where is your brother finding sympathy and friendship, if he is? At what strange idolatrous altars does your brother bow; before what god or gods does he prostrate himself? If these questions do not haunt us, they must. For they are addressed to all men by the Father of all men.
Suppose, like Cain, we say, “How should I know? That’s his business, not mine. Am I my brother’s keeper? I believe in live and let live. I believe in enlightened self-interest. I have nothing against the Negro so long as he stays out of my neighborhood. I want the Japanese people to live, just so their products don’t compete with American-made things. I want world peace, but we don’t dare negotiate with the Russians while they’re ahead in the armaments race, and when we’re ahead we don’t have to negotiate. I believe in the work of the church, but not in the foreign missions of it. (There’s plenty to do right here at home.)” Suppose our answers be such as these. Can we not hear the judgement of the Eternal – with a vertical orange cloud for an exclamation point – “Henceforth when you till the ground it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer upon the earth.”
What must we do to be saved? We must accept now, if we have not yet done so, that we are our brother’s keeper. It has always been true. Men haven’t always recognized it as true, and that is one reason there have been so many fugitives and wanderers in human history. Today the world in which we live cannot and will not tolerate any other attitude. It is all too vitally interdependent. Self-interest – in the usual sense of that term – is suicide. National interest – in the usual sense of that term – is sure doom.
It is literally true that our own interests and the interests of our brothers in the long run are essentially the same. America’s health and the health of the world are inseparable.
It was true in 1961. It was true before then. It’s still true today.
God asks us today – Where is your brother/sister?
God askes us today – Where is your LGBTQ+ brother/sister? Where is your African-American brother/sister? Where is your Latino/Hispanic brother/sister? Where is your homeless brother/sister? Where is your poor brother/sister? Where is your asylum seeking brother/sister? Where is your brother/sister who speaks a different language?
God asks us the question – Where is your brother/sister?
What are you going to say to God in response?