The early chapters of Genesis have much to say about community. The inspired record has scarcely started when we read that “it is not good for the man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18). While this statement points primarily towards the marriage relationship, it also expresses the larger truth that God made us for relationships. We are social beings. Though we might have our limits concerning how many people we can be around for how long, we all have this in common—we need to be around other people!
Cain’s question then (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”), is wrong because its intent is to separate what God has joined together. God created us for community and any attempt to deny that, be it in the form of Cain’s murder of Abel or our claims to self-sufficiency, are wrong. Indeed, God’s punishment of Abel was remedial. He is expelled from his community and made a “restless wanderer,” to teach him (and us) the importance of brotherhood. Later in the Genesis account, the same thing happens on a world-wide scale at the tower of Babel when the people are made to speak different languages and scattered out over the face of the earth. Sin (ultimately) always drives people apart.
It’s no surprise then that part of the good news is not just that men can be brought into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but as a consequence of this, they can also be brought into relationship with each other. At Pentecost, we see the sequel to the tower of Babel as people speaking different languages are brought together as one through Jesus Christ. The book of Acts continues this theme as Samaritans and Jews are brought together (Acts 8), then Gentiles and Jews (Acts 10). Paul will stress that Jew, Greek, male, female, free, and slave all find a home in the community of Christ. Community then is the intent of God in both creation and re-creation in Christ. We were made by God for community but sin brought alienation and estrangement. God is bringing people together today in the same way He did two thousand years ago – through the cross of Jesus. Listen to Paul’s words from Ephesians 2 of The Message:
Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building.
Don’t you love what God is building?