In the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and her little dog Toto found themselves in the strange land of Oz she said to her furry companion, “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.” Dorothy knew that she now stood in a place that was different than her home.
When God finished creating the Garden of Eden with its first two occupants, a couple named Adam and Eve, God looked at his newly created experiment and called it very good. It was a paradise; a place where perfect harmony existed between humanity, creation, and God. God’s hopes and dreams had become a reality and Eden was born. Yet as the story unfolded, sin soon exploded on the scene and left a devastating trail of debris. Eden was shattered. Adam and Eve’s relationship was broken, humanity’s relationship with creation was broken, and God’s heart was broken as Eden was no longer what God intended it to be. With Eden now gone, the rest of the world cascaded into brokenness as Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, killed his younger brother Abel.
When God finds Cain he questions him. In Genesis 4 we read, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Where humanity now stood, it was a long way from Eden.
We are so far away from Eden in our world today. This recent days we witnessed the horrible killing of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota. While in custody, a white officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck until he could no longer breathe. The brutality of his death has been acknowledged by many Americans. The sin of racism is a constant reminder that we are a long way from Eden. Wherever individuals are mistreated, oppressed, hated, abused, and killed because of their race, their blood cries out from the ground. We can never be the people God created us to be as long as the sin of racism is not confessed and repented of. Only then will we be able to change.
Racism is our national sin. The sin of slavery continues to ripple through the systems of our nation: economic, political, judicial, religious, etc. We must also acknowledge its presence in our own lives. The subtle whispers of racism can still be heard in our daily living. Tragically, it takes the death of someone like George Floyd to remind us of this again. We cannot continue down our current path. The further we move away from God’s design for our lives, then the greater the death and destruction that will follow.
The serpent continues to lead us away from God’s goodness. Once again it has slithered through peaceful protests of George Floyd’s death to incite more hatred and violence. Its message is always the same, hate. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this. “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…”
As Christians and as the church we must seek to work for justice and righteousness in our land for all people. The Kingdom of God that Jesus came proclaiming was not simply some Eden-like wonderland beyond the clouds, but a radical transformation of the world in which we live. “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s kingdom cannot come on earth as long as we are okay with some of God’s children not being able to breathe. God’s Kingdom cannot come as long as we choose violence to respond to the struggles in our world.
I hope I can do better. I hope that I will pay attention to the serpent of racism and hate that slithers around in my own life leading me to abandon God’s good creation. I am my brother’s keeper; red, yellow, black, or white. We all have a place in Eden.