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« On a personal note... | Main | Preacher, Avoid These Mistakes »

Why We Must Care

“And brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Luke 10:34

Caring in 2013 is a multi-billion dollar business.  Meteoric rises in health care costs no longer shock us; we now pay monthly for anticipated legal care; child care, elder care, hair care, eye care, lawn care, pet care, car care, environmental care—you name it—are all familiar terms in today’s vocabulary.  Compelling qualifiers like intensive, quality, superior and comprehensive make care even more appealing.  It’s a wonderful, caring world that we live in as long as you have the money to pay for it!

Caring used to be the expression of basic human concern.  People simply cared for each other without thought of payback.  We cared about family members, relationships, causes, institutions and ideas because we loved them and realized that they were vital to our way of life.  Now, care seems to be the springboard for exploitation rather than genuine concern.  When someone says “I care about you,” run for your life!

At one time, families were the primary source of care.  “Home, sweet home” was where you could count on a hot meal, a warm bed, clean clothes and a bunch of family members hovering over you.  With the decimation of the twenty-first century family, home is not much of an option anymore.  Groups of people in temporarily arranged “families” cling to each other for care as long as they find it convenient and profitable.  Otherwise, you’re out on the street.  The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness promotes their cause with this statement: “No one should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.”  The need to say this is, in itself, a telling description of how out of whack our culture has become. 

Can you say CHURCH?! This is precisely why more and more people are looking to the church.  It may be a place of salvation and truth, but it is also where people still care about people.  In fact, every church needs to take inventory of its caring practices.  After (and sometimes before) we demonstrate our care for the soul by leading people to salvation, we must focus on other aspects of their welfare.  Our primary mission may be spiritual, but that does not exclude meeting human needs.  The Good Samaritan modeled the caring mission of the Savior, and, by implication, the church.  He knelt down in the mud, got messy giving primary care, exerted physical effort, and paid dearly to give—not receive—care.  Today’s church has not fulfilled its duty just by explaining full salvation and the Godhead, and then walking away.  Unless we really care for the person, we become smug dispensers of doctrine.  The New Testament church must practice the following:

We must care for ourselves.  “For every man must bear his own burden.”  Galatians 6:5.  This simply means that we should not intentionally become a burden on others.  It is not right for a Christian to neglect his personal welfare, to live irresponsibly or to become a parasite to society if he is able to take care of himself.  You should not expect others to do for you what you can do for yourself.

We must care for each other.  “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2.  Keep an eye on each other.  Pay attention to telltale signs that indicate a brother or sister is having a tough time.  Pray for one another.  If you can, slip a few dollars into someone’s hand.  Send a card, speak a kind word, fix a meal, buy some groceries, run an errand, and ask if there is anything more you can do.  Imagine yourself in a down-and-out situation and respond to someone else like you would want them to respond to you.

We must care for the church.  “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” Ephesians 5:29.  Love the church.  Pray for the church.  Attend every service you possibly can.  Support the church with your tithes and offerings.  Respond to initiatives led by the pastor.  Participate in activities sponsored by the church.  Strive to keep unity in the congregation.  Talk positively about the church.  Invite and bring people to the church.  Minimize your criticisms and maximize your compliments.

We must care for the faith. Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  Jude 1:3.  These precious Apostolic truths need to be cherished, taught, practiced and handed down to the next generation.  Do not undermine them with generic, widely acceptable dogma.  While they must not become weapons or sledgehammers, they nonetheless are powerful revelations of truth. 

Care for each of these elements lies in the portfolio of every church member’s business.  The level of your care will determine the viability of who we are and what we believe.  Care is not a collective emotion.  It cannot be left to others or to the group as a whole.  You, as an individual, have to care. Your willingness to care shows the depth of your love, the breadth of your understanding and the height of your vision.  Care may really be the most Christ-like attribute that any of us possesses. 

Let it be said of every Apostolic church “Those are the most caring people I have ever known!”  In an uncaring world, let them come to us.  We care.

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