Genesis 4.1-15,25; Psalm 49; Mark 8.11-13;
We are given little explanation for the lord’s favourable attitude towards Abel, or for his unfavourable response to Cain. Something of the conflicting economic concerns of farmers, tied to the land, and of herdsmen, infamous for their feral, undomesticated ways, may be being suggested here. “The farmer and the cowman should be friends” Rodgers and Hammerstein counselled in the musical Oklahoma! But rarely in history has it been so.
For us, though, the story offers the grim reminder that “Sin is like a crouching beast hungering for you.” The rupture of the relationship between Creator and his creation that is narrated in Genesis 3 has the further consequence of muddying all other relationships—with ourselves, with the people we encounter, with the natural world. “One who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen.” [I John 4.20b] What we find difficult or impossible, though, God himself does for us and on our behalf. By the virtue of His life He conquers the sin that would destroy us. By His love for the most unlovely [Romans 5.7] He gives us the strength we need for love—love, finally, even for our unlovely selves.