In 2013, a jet crashed in San Francisco, resulting in three tragic deaths. One young woman died not from injuries caused by the crash, but from being run over by a rescue vehicle that rushed to the scene. City authorities conducted an investigation and determined that the death was accidental and that the driver would not face criminal charges. But the board of the airline involved took a very different approach to this tragedy: They called a public press conference and bowed low in apology. Even though they may not have been individually responsible for the girl’s death, they felt they shared responsibility as the leaders of the company.
This sense of collective responsibility is also found in the book of Hosea. The prophet was called to marry an unfaithful wife as a metaphor for the nation of Israel’s repeated unfaithfulness to God (Hosea 1:2). God is surely grieved by our individual sins, but His heart breaks for the sins that we commit as a larger group of people, as a church, or even as a nation. This is a common theme found throughout Scripture (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40-41; Isaiah 63:10; Ezekiel 6:9).
The more isolated and individualistic the world becomes, the less we might feel responsibility for the actions of others. We can think, That wasn’t me! I didn’t do that! I’m not to blame! And while true, we need to remember that we’re not simply responsible for ourselves as Cain wrongly thought (Genesis 4:9). As part of the body of Christ, may we live in a way that honors Him and blesses our brothers and sisters. And, when necessary, may we lovingly confront—by God’s wisdom, strength, and guidance—sin and anything that negatively affects our community.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 4:1-16
Read Luke 19:41-42 and see how Jesus wept for a people who had collectively turned from Him.
Have you ever apologized for the actions of someone else? Why did you do so? What are the parameters and benefits of shared responsibility with other believers in Jesus?