Brother's Keeper

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

Brother's Keeper


I Can (series)

As previously noted, I started uniformed patrol on midnights in July, 1975; but shortly after that I was assigned a special traffic detail in the downtown area with a few other academy graduates. We pulled foot patrol—working miscellaneous sporting and large crowd events for about three weeks. Then, in late August, I rejoined my original 13th Precinct rotation, working the day shift.

Near the end of August, my partner and I received a high priority radio run to one of the precinct party stores. The run came out as a “robbery in progress, shots fired.” We drove, lights and siren, to the location; and when we arrived, we exited the scout car and proceeded cautiously. As soon as I walked in the front door of the party store, I saw a man lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He had been shot multiple times, and it was obvious to me the man was dead.

It was my first homicide scene, just barely a month on the job; and other than a funeral home visit or two, it was the first time I had witnessed death that up close and personal. As soon as I saw the body lying there, I grabbed my portable police radio and said, “He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead!” 

The dispatcher responded by saying, “Will the unit who just relayed that last transmission please identify themselves and give their location.”

I repeated my previous statement, “He’s dead, he’s dead!” At that point, my partner took the police radio from my hand and provided the dispatcher with the needed information I failed to give. He advised on the shooting, indicated our location, and requested an EMS vehicle (emergency medical service) along with a patrol supervisor. When EMS arrived, sure enough, they pronounced the man DAS (dead at the scene).

Looking back, the incident I just described was extremely appalling to me. I’m convinced initially I was in a state of shock. When I saw that motionless body and lifeless stare, I can remember having a difficult time breathing. I was unable to respond in a rational or prudent way. Hence, my incoherent radio transmission, not once—but twice.

My initial impulse was to vomit; I was instantly sick to my stomach. Then I kind of lost it emotionally and found myself having to fight really hard to keep it together. I mean, just a few moments before I arrived, a human life had been snuffed out; a living, breathing person was gone. For the first time in my life, the reality of death smacked me square in the face. It was tangible. It was real. It was now attached to me. I could literally smell death in the air.

In the Bible the first recorded murder takes place in Genesis 4 (just four chapters in) when Cain killed his brother Abel. Afterward God asked Cain about it, and do you remember how Cain responded? First he lied and said, “I don’t know.” He was in total denial, and then Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Lord responded and said, “What have you done?” Just recently I was gripped with the next statement God made to Cain. Here’s what God said in Genesis 4:10, “Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Read that verse again, and pause long enough to comprehend it.

Do you have any idea how amplified those same countless blood cries to God must be? I’m not talking about past centuries during barbaric, primitive, or uncivilized days; I’m talking about now, in the day and age we currently live in. Violence, hate, and senseless bloodshed, along with shooting after shooting and killing after killing, are still running rampant in civilized America— today—in the year 2020.

The fact of the matter is, we ARE our brother’s keeper. We have been instructed by our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, to love one another. Last time I checked, we’re even to love our enemies. This is not a suggestion or hopeful recommendation, it’s a command—to love our neighbor as ourselves. Friend, there is no place in the heart of a believer for hatred, hostility, or animosity. These unfavorable attributes or characteristics do not come from God, they are “earthly, unspiritual, ungodly, demonic.” (See James 3:14-15.)

Matthew 5:21-22a

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment.

Matthew 5:43-48

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God, 

and renew a right spirit within me.