We're bad, too, but not beyond the loving reach of God.
I was reading an article in the New York Times about the abundance of new wealth in Khartoum, Sudan. The article featured pictures of well-dressed, laughing young people eating luxurious meals in air-conditioned cafes and buying $165,000 BMWs. Meanwhile, a mere 600 miles away in Darfur, the world is watching one of the worst crises of the past decade. Thousands of people are being starved, persecuted, and murdered.
I felt outrage as I read the article, saying to myself, These are exactly the kind of people described in Genesis 4. These people are just like Cain.
Then, a few days later, I was driving by Port Jeff Station where there's a tiny storefront Hispanic church. For nearly four years, I've driven by this simple, poor church and felt a little nudge from God saying, "Stop and check it out. They might need some help." I'd think about trying to eke out a living on Long Island as an immigrant family. I'd think about the families that live in the woods three miles from my house and the Hispanic teenagers lost in gang life. But then I'd always say, yeah, sure, maybe later, God. But on this day, I finally stopped at that storefront church and looked in the window. There were empty boxes and garbage strewn on the floor. The church was obviously closed, and the pastor had left town.
I don't have a nice moral to this story except to say this: maybe life isn't as simple as I thought. Maybe I have more in common with those well-dressed, rich young people in Khartoum. And maybe there's more of Cain in my heart than I'd like to admit.
Perhaps that sounds depressing, but I want to jar us out of the common view that Genesis 4 contains a simple, flat, moralistic tale about good guys and bad guys—Abel is the good guy, and ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).