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Responding to Our Brother's Needs

A MAN was asked in an interview if he felt people in the suburbs had any responsibility to help take care of the people in inner cities. His answer was a definite ``No.'' In fact, he felt no responsibility to help anyone outside of his own immediate family and friends.

Sadly, many people feel this way. And sometimes we feel that even if we helped others get out of their difficulties, it would only be a matter of time before they returned to their old ways, perhaps falling deeper into the mire. But we don't have to just shrug our shoulders and decide not to even try to help. There is something we can do. We can pray, and the Bible shows us how.

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The book of Genesis records that after Cain murdered Abel, God said to him, ``Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?'' (4:9). This is the question mankind faces today. Are we our brother's keeper? The answer is an emphatic ``Yes!'' But our ``brother'' isn't just our immediate family, or even people we know well. As children of one Father, God, we are all gathered in His love, all brothers and sisters in one family. Taking responsibility to care for others doesn't mean, however, that we should rush around personally intervening in everyone's difficulties. It's only what is based on God's guidance that will truly--and permanently--help. This is where prayer comes in.

While I was in college I had to leave a class early because I was feeling seriously ill. Unable to make it to my car, I sat down in the middle of the sidewalk to pray. It was hard to hold onto any one thought, but through persistence I was able to think of God and His all-power. And I prayed for help. It wasn't long before another student, one I had never met and never saw again, came up to me. He asked if I was all right and wanted to know what he could do for me. He didn't speak my language very well, and it was difficult for me to talk to him because of the way I felt. But he understood enough to get me to a safe, quiet place where I could continue praying. While praying I began to think of the selflessness of the other student. In providing help to a stranger, he was responding to his brother's need. I felt God's love all around me and I was immediately healed.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``To obey the Scriptural command, `Come out from among them, and be ye separate,' is to incur society's frown; but this frown, more than flatteries, enables one to be Christian'' (p. 238). The willingness to turn to God for direction separates us from the secular ways of society. Such prayer, however is what enables us to meet our Christian duty of aiding our brother.

And when our prayer leads us to take compassionate actions, we can expect what we do to make a difference, to change the inharmonious situation permanently, because we have understood something of the reality of man's innate perfection and abundance, given to him by God, good. Prayer answers our own needs as well as our brother's. So when we are properly being our brother's keeper, we ourselves are also benefited and blessed. We can be confident that God cares for all of His children--that each of us is perfect and complete, lacking nothing. We are actively following Christ Jesus when we respond to our brother's immediate need with spiritual understanding. And we can learn more about how to heal as Jesus did by studying his life and works in the Bible. Following Jesus' example, we can--and do--respond to our brother's needs with compassion and efficacy.

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