Inspecting our spiritual DNA

We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John 3:11,12,16

Daniel J. Habben

According to a 2003 study, 16 million men from mainland Asia and southern Siberia (8% of the male population) are descended from the once-feared Mongol ruler, Genghis Khan. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out how many of Genghis Khan’s traits were passed down through the generations?

You’re probably not descended from Genghis Kahn, but Lent is an opportunity to inspect your spiritual DNA. What you find might surprise you. You may be more like Cain than you would like to admit! But you’re also more like Christ than you may realize.

Like Cain

Let’s start with our similarity to Cain. He bludgeoned his brother to death. Oh, there may be no murder weapon buried in our closets, but consider how the Bible says, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). Hatred, like murder, wishes the other person didn’t exist. That makes our workplace especially homicidal, doesn’t it? Lazy coworkers. Inept managers. Ungrateful customers. They’re all easy targets for our anger—an emotion that can easily boil over into hatred when not cooled down with daily repentance. Even when we repent of our hatred, we often allow ourselves to silently seethe. Yes, we’re more like Cain than we’d like to admit!

Like Cain, we should rightly expect God to drive us from his presence. Instead, God delivers us into the arms of his Son. John wrote: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Jesus’ cry from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), was like the shout of a hiker who distracts a charging grizzly away from others by making himself the bear’s target. God answered Jesus’ cry by turning his righteous anger away from us and instead bringing down the full weight of his wrath on his Son. With Jesus’ innocent death, God’s wrath was spent. We sinners are spared.

Like Christ

Now with our new lease on eternal life, we who can still so easily hate like Cain are exhorted by the apostle John to love like Christ.

Love like Christ? Don’t think it’s possible? Well, let’s inspect our spiritual DNA again. Jesus once said: “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20). We may be more like Cain than we’d like to admit, but believers are also more like Christ than they may realize. Think of how an electric power bar goes from “dead” to “live” when it’s plugged into an outlet. Through Baptism we have gone from dead to alive . . . in Christ. His love isn’t just racing to us; it’s also racing through us, the way electricity pulses through a power bar to give life to all the appliances plugged into it. With Jesus, we can show love to everyone—even the difficult people.

Yes, you share spiritual DNA with Cain. But through Baptism you’ve inherited the spiritual DNA of Christ. You have his forgiveness. And you also have his power to show love to others.

Contributing editor Daniel Habben is pastor at St. Peter, Saint Albert, Alberta, Canada.



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Author: Daniel J. Habben
Volume 104, Number 3
Issue: March 2017

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