The Cost of Caring

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill ye the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2.  The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5:14.  This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you, John 15:12  We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1

Why don’t people care?  When someone hurts, when someone is hungry, when they see someone assailed with torments why do they keep away as if what is happening to the the other is of no concern to themselves?  How do you walk past someone crying alone, and not draw near and offer comfort, or at least inquire whether there is anything you can do to help?

Broken people aren’t contagious. They are wounded.  What kind of human being can just walk past that, unaffected?

What has happened in this world that people just don’t care?  Someone hurts, and the hurting one is disdained because it is viewed as weakness?

How small is your heart?

I need others.  That, to you, is despicable. You write someone off after one offense.  You are superior in every way.  That is what you must believe.  Even while you speak at times of being a nobody and a failure, that is really just a temporary glitch.  You despise the same insecurities in others, their  very willingness to admit they can’t do life alone.

I’m talking to you, Christian.  You see me in my job, or in church, you don’t know the days I struggle.  Because I struggle in private.  Because it is considered indecent, obscene  to struggle publicly.  Nothing else is taboo anymore.  But that sure is.

You are not “that kind” of Christian?  The kind who would judge someone for being gay.  The kind that actually thinks the Bible is true?  But you are the kind of Christian that believes in being strong and self-sufficient.

Being human is shameful.  We are all god-men now. It is time for our next evolutionary leap.  That’s “what time it is’ and professing Christians are right there in line with everyone else.

For a time, I was fooled by that deceptive lie.  “You can do anything, be anything you want to be, just believe in yourself, and never give up”.

Don’t count on anybody else.  Don’t get bogged down with anyone else’s problems. Those things just hinder you and weigh you down.  They’re so negative.  Just don’t let that be part of your life, don’t give it your time or energy.  They’re losers and you don’t plan to lose.  This seems to be the acceptable way of thinking these days.

You know what, though?  You can be going along in life, truly just riding the crest of the waves of success, having it all, feeling of course, you’ve earned it and are entitled to enjoy it.  But what does that count for when something goes wonky in your brain one day and you forget a name, can’t find your wallet, wake up disoriented and forget to put your pants on?  Fast forward a month, you finally broke down and went to the doctor, the diagnosis, Alzheimer’s.  You slip into a hazy world and all that you have and all that you are and were, crumbles.  You read up and learn that it is progressive.  You have become someone who needs others.  You are now “one of them“.

What does it amount to when you have thrown off the strictures of morality and religion, did it your way, indulged your every appetite, and then find yourself bleeding out on a crosswalk in Times Square one New Years Eve?  One minute reveling, and the next minute, standing before your Maker and Judge?

Then you get a glimpse into the heaven you will never be admitted into, and you see multitudes dressed in fine white linen so clean and bright you can’t keep your eyes open, and among them you see the girl with cerebral palsy who was in your class in High School that disgusted you with her spasms and awkward speech and ever-present drooling smile.  Among them also, the double-amputee Viet Nam Veteran whose patriotism you considered the epitome of foolishness. Whose flag you took issue with at the Neighborhood Association and smugly won your battle to make him take it down.  You see your own mother, who raised three kids while working 2 jobs, who prayed on her knees, and had a pathetic weakness for men who ultimately always threw her away like an old worn-out shirt.

They are not there because they were weak and needy.  They did not earn their place in Heaven because of their “suffering”, but it was their suffering that softened their hearts and let them see their own need of a Savior.  You, the “lucky one” the “self-made man”, what do you see now? The same suffering you loathed, and allowed to harden your own heart.  You made your choices.  And when that man from the church knocked on your door you sneered at him, gave him a smarmy sendoff, topped off with some disgusting profanity just to knock some shine off his “holiness” as he retreated down your sidewalk back down the road to the next house.

You looked to the successful business man in your little town, who went to church every week, and closed his store on Sundays, and you thought what a sucker he was.  How much business he was losing.

You went to college and you found your place.  So happy to escape the smallness of your upbringing.  You knew you were meant for better things, and you meant to see to it that you had them.

But now it is over. So what?  Heaven is for suckers!  You’d rather be in hell with all your real friends anyway.  And so you are.

There are people in this world who call themselves Christians who feel they have believed as best they can, and “can’t help” what they can’t accept.  They don’t believe the Bible is infallible. They will not believe in a God who allows tragedy or judges them because of who they choose to love.  They certainly don’t believe that the devil is real.  They know they have done some things that are wrong and they have just enough fear about the veracity of a God and existence of hell, to know they may better acknowledge Him, just to be on the safe side, but let’s not get carried away.  They can believe that God is God and is more powerful than themselves, while they also believe He has rigged a system in which His terms mandate their obedience and accepting His Jesus, so they grudgingly complied.

They go to church, try to see things the way they are taught, find that every “Christian” they meet believes things different from one another, and every preacher seems to have his own version of what it means to be a Christian, and after a few rounds of that, come to the conclusion they are as capable as any preacher or other Christian, to decide for themselves what their own “religion” is going to look like.  They’ve tried the Bible, and  can’t really make much sense out of it.  It just doesn’t seem to work for this fellow, but he’s happy for other people who seem to get great comfort out of it. To each his own, is how he sees it.

He “knows” he has done “the best he could”, even if he is a little bit aloof from people and can’t really bring himself to feel sorry for people’s struggles because most people are just stupid and get themselves into their own messes.  Unlike himself, he is just the white male in America who everything is stacked against these days anyway.  He has a wife who is a good person and honest and loves the Lord, but is too emotional, strong but fragile, passionate, but too complicated.  It’s a burden.  He has been strapped with this broken person, bless her heart, she can’t help it.  But he’s earning his way and screw anyone who doesn’t think he is doing enough for the Lord.  He thinks: What I do doesn’t matter, God isn’t worried about me, anyway.  He has bigger things to worry about, and doesn’t the Bible say “God helps those who help themselves?”  So he decides, “I’ll take my chances and forge my own definition of morality”

There is no end to the variations, misconceptions, assumptions, and incorrect conclusions that people come to about God,and about purpose in life.  The fool says in his heart, “there is no god”.  The fool thinks God is an accessory to be customized to suit the individual.  The fool thinks there is no hell, no judgment day, no Creator, no payoff to be gained by concerning himself with the plights of others.

There are twelve forms of the word fool in the Bible (six Hebrew, six Greek), and a whopping total of 330 occurrences  of all these various forms through out the Bible. Starting with the Hebrew, one is pronounced saw-kal which is to play the fool, be foolish, do something irrational and silly.  Another is pronounce naw-bawl, and means to be stupid, impious or a wicked or vile person.  Yet another word for fool in the Bible is pronounced kes-eel, (properly) fat, or stupid, silly, foolish, and derives from the root pronounced as kaw-sal which is a verb meaning to become stupid as a result of being taught by idiots.  Then there is ev-eel, which means perverse (turned aside from right and reason, depraved, given over). Haw-lal to boast or rave, cause something to appear absurd.  In the Greek an-o’-ay-tos  is unintelligent and sensual (fleshly).  As’-of-os  means unwise. Af’-rone means mindless, egostistical, rash.  Mo-rah’ee-no, to become stupid, to make (passively act) as a simpleton.   Mo-ros’, heedless, dull, moral wretch, apparently absurd.

There are exactly two ways that a heart can go.  Soft or hard.  Life is like a forge.  The human heart when exposed to or confronted with fire, pain, trauma, injustice, heat, whether directed upon self, or someone else, will tend one way or will tend the other.  And the funny thing is, in life, you do have the ability to choose which way it will go, but some people don’t even give it any thought as a decision.  Some people harden their heart. Most people. They are all about protecting self first and foremost.  They will put up the walls, be willfully blind, and they will become bitter and small-hearted and small-minded and will be loneley in life, and resistant to God and wind up most likely, in hell.  There will be others who will choose to love, accept, absorb a blow, try and help lift the burden of another, even when it costs them something, even when they have to swallow pride, miss personal opportunity, or deplete their own resources some (or a lot) in the process.

God chose the foolish things to confound the “wise”.  He came not to call the “righteous” but sinners to repentance.  Those who are already “whole” (self-sufficient) need not a physician.

I don’t want to meet any of God’s definitions of a fool.  In order to do that, I may have to epitomize every single of the world’s definition of fool.  So be it!  I don’t think people are disposable, throw-away commodities.  I don’t love like I should, not like God loves, but I know that He isn’t interested in making you rich with this world’s mammon.  He is not interested in your being educated by idiots to love yourself first, most, and best.

The life of a Christian is anathema to this world.  We don’t do it justice but some of us are trying.  Some of us really want to not be ashamed before the Lord when He presents us to His Father.  I want to acknowledge Him before men, because He is everything, and because I don’t want Him to be ashamed of me.  I want to care for others, even if my flesh doesn’t always feel like it.  I want to concern myself with what is right and I may do way too much “thinking” as I’ve been accused, (sometimes I accuse myself of this) but conscientiousness is a virtue, in God’s economy, because He tells us to live circumspect, redeeming the time because the days are evil.  Redeeming the time doesn’t mean just being busy.  Living circumspect  means with attention to what is around us. A cup of cold water given in His name, counts in Heaven.  He doesn’t care about things, so when He tells us to be aware of what is around us, He must mean people.

The more hurt I experience, the more I have to make that purposeful determination to keep caring.  I am tempted to stop.  At one time in my life I didn’t know it was possible to stop caring.  Go through enough in life, though, and you will find out how possible it is, and how tempting.

God cares about you.  It came at a huge cost.  The difference between a millionaire dropping a few dollar bills into the Salvation Army Kettle and a poor person giving up their 2nd pair of shoes for someone who doesn’t have any shoes at all, is COST.

It has nothing to do with dollar amounts.  And everything to do with sacrificial giving of what you have no matter how limited your resources. It has to do with not becoming stingy and hoarding.

God’s yard stick isn’t like ours.  He not only measures by a different standard, He deems completely different things worthy of measure than we do. The things we “measure” are often nothing at all to Him.  They won’t count. AT. ALL.

Commitment is another concept that is lost today.  And confused, too.  Because to most people commitment is a term they relate to career, success, accomplishment, rather than to family or fellow humans.  I like the humorous distinction made between contributing and committing.  It goes something like this: A chicken lays an egg and makes a contribution to breakfast, a pig is slaughtered and makes a contribution to breakfast.  They both were involved in “giving”, but the pig was committed.  It’s just a silly business fable, but it highlights an important distinction.  We all like to feel like we contribute something in this life.  But is what we give, enough? Does it even really count?

I know of a lady from right here in our little old Podunk town, whom very few knew was a multi-millionaire.  She left huge endowments to various causes, projects, and services in our city when she died.  As these things go, some of those funds are being fought over in court even as I write this.  So, her name is known, all right.  She is remembered.  People are impressed, and a legacy is, for now, established.  She is dead.  Her body is in a grave, and God knows where her soul is.  You can give a lot and it still not count for anything.  In the eternal scheme of things.

Parks, schools, arts, libraries, housing, feeding the hungry, all those things have merit.  But people, souls, that is all that really matters!

A guy approaches a homeless lady on Valentines day, and asks if he can spend the day with her.  He takes her for a makeover, buys her a nice outfit, and treats her to a good meal at a nice restaurant.  That societal castoff gets to feel human again for a day, feel like a “normal person” as valuable and as deserving as others.  That is heart-warming and it is an inspirational gesture, but if five years later that homeless woman drinks herself into a coma in the cold of winter and dies of hypothermia in the night, without Jesus, her soul will wake up in hell, and her body will be carted to the city morgue, cremated or buried in a cardboard coffin somewhere.  Or whatever it is they do with unclaimed bodies of people whom nobody cared about and no one will mourn, except God Himself.

God help us to care.  We are a world of people who have hardened our own hearts.

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