Saturday, November 12, 2016

Genesis 1:25 -- On Recognizing Our Own Kind

"And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."
Genesis 1:25

This may seem strange, I realize, but as I was reading this today, the word "kind" stuck out, and I thought how different this noun kind is from the noun kindness.  And then, I started thinking about how they are similar, and when I looked up the word origin, they seem to come from the same place.

The beasts talked about here (and later when the animals are gathered in the time of Noah) are probably members of the same species (animals that are similar enough to reproduce together).  And although all humans are of one species, we definitely choose to divide ourselves further... but the idea of "kind" ... similar genetically, or "of the same blood" is directly related to the idea of being kind, or kindness.

We treat people well (for the most part) if we recognize them as similar to us--part of our tribe or family, or part of a group that we identify with.  We can feel an instant bond with someone when we find out we went to the same college, grew up in the same hometown, or are members of the same church.  Our boundaries are pretty flexible in this regard.  If we are traveling or living outside our home country, we can feel an instant kinship with someone from our country.  As we know, countries are huge, but in a situation where we feel strange, any familiarity feels welcome.  On the other hand, the more people that we have around that are similar to us, the more likely we are to get picky about who our inner circle is, and the more likely there are to be people we ostracize or alienate and treat as "outsiders."

There are times that we say things like "I wouldn't _________ if you were the last person on earth." The blank can be filled in with almost anything... like you, date you, agree with you, buy a car from you... the list goes on. :)  But the truth is, if that were really true, we'd probably be friends.  Not least because we both just lived through the zombie apocalypse and there is no one else to pal around with (just kidding about the zombies), but also because we would finally see each other at that point as the same kind... an essential part of each other's lives.

When we read Matthew 5:44-45 where Christ says "... Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; / That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven..." isn't that what God is telling us? That we should start remembering and recognizing each other as our kind?  As part of a group we identify with... children of God, people that we *do* have a connection to, and people who could be some of our dearest friends?

Today, let's remember that God created all of us to be a part of this world.  We all belong here.  God sees that it is good, and we probably need to work a little harder to see that as well.  Let's work on being more inclusive and loving, and on treating other people like friends, rather than enemies.

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