- Cain and Abel? Yeah, that ended well.
- Isaac and Ishmael? Comforting, no?
- Jacob and Esau? Well, they eventually made up.
- Joseph in his coat and the brothers who peopled his dreams? Such a sweet story. Not.
- James and John? Maybe a bit more encouraging, even if they did tend to be hot-tempered Mama's boys.
- Jesus and his brothers? They believed Him... after He died. Sheesh.
I have thought of these pairings again and again as I raise my own set of boys, these brothers who bicker and punch and also tickle and tease and then go back to crying and yelling because someone looked at someone else and make him stop looking at me like that/copying me/stealing my toys/making those faces.
As I was reading a book set in Syria, a book that taught me a lot I never knew about Islam and the Quran as well as new angles from which to approach my own Scriptures, I thought of the things we have in common and also how we differ. I enjoyed comparing our stories to those in the Quran, our version of Mary and theirs, etc... How could these two faiths come from one man and still the faithful cannot get along to save our lives? Literally to save so many lives.
My mind snaked its way back to the brothers. I ran down the list again and landed on Isaac and Ishmael. When you think about it, Christianity (or, at least Judaism) and Islam are brothers. Isaac fathered Jacob who went forth and became Israel. Ishmael also prospered and filled the land with descendants.
And here we are, thousands of years later, still divided by the differences of brothers.
And here I am, thousands of years later, still struggling to reconcile two boys from the same father. So alike and so different.
How would the world change if brothers got along?
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.