Dead black men.
Dead white cops.
White, black, brown, or olive, Cain by any other name is still Cain (Gen 4.1-8). A spear. Brother-killer. The antithesis of God’s son (1 Jn 3.11-12). The spirit of antichrist that is already in the world (1 Jn 4.3).
Most white cops don’t shoot black men. Most black men don’t snipe cops. Nevertheless, we exchanged God’s world of love for a world and narrative of hatred (Rom 1.28-32). In that world, our world, killing another image-bearer of God — be it legally justified or not — is a prudent course of action.
Racism and civil injustice are not 20th century, American pariahs. They are part of the global narrative in which we all share. We are all racists now. And have been since we thought the Serpent wiser than God.
The fundamental question (even if a necessary one in this life) is not who is justified to shoot whom in what situations. The fundamental question is what sort of world is this where homicide and murder could be justified at all?
If Eve were to have a seed (son) to would crush the Serpent’s head (Gen 3.15), it would have to be another son besides Cain. He was already crushed by the Serpent.
If there was to be salvation, she would need a new son.
“Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4.26).
A son of Seth who would call up on the name of the LORD and not go out from the presence of the LORD (Gen 4.16). A son of Seth to replace the legacy of his brother’s hatred. A son of Seth to begin a new line of worshipers, not brother-killers.
We hear nothing about Seth after Gen 5.8 aside from a mere archival mention in 1 Chron 1.1. Nothing, that is, until Luke describes Bethlehem’s newly-baptized son as “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Lk. 3.38).
God had appointed us another offspring in place of Abel — The Son of Seth. This Son was not only a new Abel. He was the New Adam as well. This Son would give no quarter to Satan’s hatred.
This Son would (re)create a new people to populate a new kingdom.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12.22-24).
The blood of Abel screamed for justice. As do the blood of dead black men and white cops. But there is no amount of blood to satisfy our cravings for justice. There just aren’t enough people to kill.
We need a new Son, one whose blood can execute justice and stop our madness. The blood of Jesus — Seth’s son — announces redemption and forgiveness. Seth’s Son is not swept up in news cycles, rage and impulse. He sits peacefully in Zion, sprinkling his blood not to make us white, black, brown or olive. But to make us clean.
And he creates a people who are not color blind. They do see color. Only they aren’t threatened by it or resentful of it. They celebrate it.
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation'” (Rev 5.9).
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands” (Rev 7.9).
Every nation, tribe, people and tongue. Heaven is not colorless. It is colorful. We haven’t seen melanin like we’ll see the “glory and the honor of the nations” refracted by the Lamb’s light (Rev 21.23-26; 22.5). We may not see it in this life, but a shout of joy comes in the morning (Ps 30.5).
The glory of heaven is not that white folks, black folks, brown folks or olive folks are there. It’s that sinners are there. All sorts of them. Sons of Cain replaced by the Son of Seth. Though blurry now, the church is one new colorful man (Eph 2.14-15). Jesus proves he can make a saint out of anyone.
Our enemy is not flesh and blood (and consequently not skin color). It is the unseen enemy that crouches at the door, desiring us, mastering us (Gen 4.7). Only Seth’s Son help us overcome him.
So, perhaps we need new laws, new training, new restraints to replace insufficient ones. Perhaps we need better cops to replace bad ones. New movements to replace stale ones. But new movements, awareness, and laws are like the blood of Abel. They still cry out for justice. What we most need is a Better Son to replace us all.
Seth’s Son never intended we stop seeing color or prioritizing it (cf. Gal 3.28). His kingdom celebrates it.
Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and pow’r.