Have you ever notice that babies react negatively when being held by someone they do not recognize? This reaction is automatic; no one has to teach them to exhibit this characteristic. In many cases they will cry and attempt to get away from the unfamiliar face. This trait remains with them throughout their lives. Whether it is skin color, clothing difference, language or national origin, man automatically and unconsciously reacts negatively to that which is unfamiliar. When people of any age come in contact with others who are different in appearance, mannerisms, cultural traits, etc. their entire countenance changes. They tend to become quieter, to divert their attention away from and physically separate themselves from the alien person. This reaction does not occur when the alien looks, sounds, etc. like themselves.
This learned, automatic defensive reaction to the unfamiliar can be traced back to the Garden of Eden where we find Adam and Eve very much at ease with the Serpent because he obviously looked like them, spoke the same language, knew and quoted the same God, etc. Because of this there seemed to be no need to reject this stranger who mysteriously appeared in their midst and began talking to them. Being one of their own, they sensed no need to beware of him. But then he refuted the Words of their God. At that point Adam and Eve should have suspected something. Unfortunately, they did not, and the rest is history.
Since that time man has tended to resist that which is not like himself. The story of Cain and Able reveals this in graphic and deadly detail. Abel and Cain were different in both attitude and action. It is irrational to believe that Cain’s run-in with God was the first time he and Abel had clashed because of their different personalities. Cain undoubtedly had developed a resistance toward the Lord over time. One does not instantly change from being obedient to being disobedient. Attitudes are developed over time, not over night.
As light differs from darkness, Abel’s attitude toward God and His commands set him apart from Cain. And the rest is history as man’s resistance toward those not like himself came to be part of the human mind-set. This tendency next showed up in the men’s reaction to Noah, “a preacher of righteousness.” God says of those men that their minds were on evil constantly. The difference between Noah and those around him was obviously striking. The people despised this lone holy man because they were unholy. Noah did things that were alien to them. As a “preacher” he undoubtedly warned them about their sins, about how their unrighteousness separated them from the righteous God. He also built a gigantic ship in a place where there was no standing water. Noah was different; therefore they rejected him. And the rest is history.
Throughout the history of mankind those who believed, obeyed and worshiped the Creator of the universe have been shunned, rejected and in many cases, killed by those who did not. To a man the Old Testament prophets were resented, rejected, and in some cases, killed by those to whom God sent them because they spoke words the masses did not want to hear and lived lives that revealed the difference between light and darkness. Later, Jesus of Nazareth came along speaking and doing what was different. Not surprisingly, He was rejected and crucified because of His different life-style and words. His apostles met the same fate for the same reason–they were different. Alike is good; different is bad. Different must be rejected. Which brings us to the modern world and the war between God’s Very Elect saints and the other 99.9% of the world’s population. L.J.