“Afterwards the LORD asked Cain, “Where is Abel?” “How should I know?” he answered, “Am I supposed to look after my brother?” (Genesis 4:9 CEV)
In 1964, a young woman was stabbed and raped outside her Queens apartment while witnesses observed and did nothing. The perp even left and returned to resume stabbing her. The New York Times claimed that 38 witnesses observed this crime and did nothing. One of those witnesses later said, “I just didn’t want to get involved.” Clinical experiments show that witnesses are less likely to help a crime victim if there are other witnesses. The more witnesses, the less likely any one person will intervene. This was later called “The Bystander Effect,” which became the force that resulted in the 911 system.
I speak to my church family: The answer to Cain’s question is an unequivocal “YES!” Christian brothers and sisters have a responsibility for one another. God has made the church so that each of its parts takes care of the other parts (1 Cor. 12:25). The church has a 911 Plan: If you see it, you own it. Here are some examples of ways to look after our brother or sister.
WATCH. Look out for their injury. Many of those we gossip about could be people in pain that someone needs to help. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
LISTEN. They are screaming. If we learn to listen for the right things, we can hear their pleas. Get out of self and focus “on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4). Can you hear them?
ACCEPT IT. Don’t pass it off. Too often personal responsibility is clouded by the multitude of ministers, staff, employees and a host of gifted people. You may be the only person to see or know of a problem (see James 2:15-16).
I am glad that Christ did not ignore, deny or pass on by me. We have his example to follow.