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Friday, July 26, 2013

Do You Care?

I.  DON’T.  CARE!

            Those may be the words of an unhappy, rebellious teenager who has had it up to her ears with her parents.  Or, it could be the words of frustration of a husband and wife as they struggle with their marriage.  Or, it could be the words of a disgruntled employee fed up with the dysfunction he finds at his workplace.  Or, it could be the words of someone coming to the end of her life, tired of fighting and ready to go home.  Or, it could be the words of a follower of Jesus, reflecting his frustration with the messed up world we live in and the messed up church he goes to.

            But, one thing we can be sure of, they were never the words of Jesus.

            Reading about Jesus’ actions and paying attention to his words will convince you that Jesus cared for people.  And his heart reflected the heart of his heavenly Father.  One of the most succinct expressions of this is found at the beginning of the familiar sixteenth verse of John – “For God so loved the world that he gave…”
            To understand more deeply what it means to care, it can be helpful to look at its opposite.  The opposite of caring is indifference.  When caring ceases, death begins.  When a couple stops caring for each other’s needs, wants, dreams, hopes, hurts and joys the relationship begins to die.  When a child stops caring about what his parents think and say, the relationship begins to die.  When we stop caring about the success of our employer, we are just putting in time and living a passionless existence.  When we stop caring about our church, we become just another consumer of spiritual goods, only concerned about what we want.  When we stop caring about the hurting, those far away from God, injustice and evil it reveals a terminal illness in our soul.
            Jesus said he came to give those who followed him a life that was abundant, overflowing, irrepressible.  You can’t have that kind of life in you and not care at the same time.  How much we care is the thermometer of our soul.  If you have stopped caring you should be very, very concerned.
            How much a church cares is also the thermometer of its soul.  When a church (and be clear on this – by “church” I mean the people who make up the gathered people who go by a certain name, not a building) stops caring for its community and its world, it is dying.  When a church stops sacrificially caring for its children and youth – the people who are most vulnerable and who are most accessible to us – it becomes a question of not “if” but “when” they will lose their voice and vitality.
            So, let me ask you some honest, important questions:  What have you stopped caring about?  What has begun to die in your soul?  Do you care?
            Jesus cares about you and your soul.  He died to bring it back to life and he is able.  The first step is to confess your soul is dying.  Second, repent – admit it is wrong and you are broken.  Third, submit it to Jesus – give it to him.  Fourth, be willing to be changed by the spirit of grace.  Fifth, ask Jesus to change your heart.  Yep, it is that hard.  But with God, all things are possible.
Peace and grace,

David Cooke