Christianity is risky
Cain and Abel
4 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.’ 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 But Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lordlooked with favour on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’
8 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.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’
‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’
10 The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’
13 Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’
15 But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
When you hear stories of Christians not living up to the Jesus manifesto it is awkward.
Like the people who choose to spend the time before and after church gossiping, or the people who only do church on Sunday and it doesn’t affect life throughout the rest of the week. Not to mention famous people who are called Christians and then their hypocrisy is held up in glorious technicolour on a 24hr news cycle.
Our scandals generally seem small when compared to Cain and Abel. Cain takes his veggie box to church and his brother Abel takes his BBQ lamb. God prefers the lamb, then tells Cain it is about his heart not the offering. Cain gets angry and invites his brother for a short walk down a secluded field and only one brother comes back.
The Jesus manifesto seems in conflict with this story at every step. Competitive worship (I don’t do that consciously), Getting angry at God’s decision, (I do that), murder, (I don’t do that), Lying to God, (only sometimes), the story ends with God's curse as punishment and Cain lacking of a way into grace. Left in a place of hard work with no rewards.
To often we look at this story and cast it off as nothing like us. Yet it is like us. We want to be liked by God. And the danger is that being liked by God is to put us in the line of danger. This is not a story of safe Christianity. The picture we have here is that of being favoured by God and murdered for that in the next verse, by our brothers.
Christianity is risky. Are you prepared to risk it?
God who is approached with fear.
You turn our comfortable world upside down.
We want comfort and safety, you offer a danger.
Be with us as we try to embrace a danger we would prefer to run from.
Be with us as we take the faith we have made comfortable
And examine it to see a call towards loving in a dangerous time.