Why don’t you care?
In our age of perpetual outrage, that may be one of the most commonly asked questions. After all, the list of needs and worthy causes are unending.
Should we not be expected to voice impassioned concern for every problem and enthusiastic support for every good cause? Even more than that, why would we not be constantly, actively, publicly doing something, doing anything, doing everything to bring all the good goals to pass?
Would this not be the case even more so for the Christian? We are called to follow after the all-loving heart of God and obey the justice-obsessed Scriptures.
Doesn’t that require being passionate about every worthy cause and being intimately concerned about every injustice around the globe and across the street?
Many Christians are already doing something, but they can feel internally convicted and externally pressured to do even more.
She’s involved with a local crisis pregnancy center, but should she be helping out at the homeless shelter?
He’s teaching an English as a second language class to refugees, but maybe he should also be campaigning to block a new payday loan business.
They’re leading their church to partner with another local congregation to emphasize racial reconciliation, but should they do something else?
I’ve felt this. And I’ve spoken with numerous other Christians who feel similarly.
They speak privately in hushed tones—so as to not be accused of not caring—about being overwhelmed by the constant call to action and concern. They’re burdened by their burden for worthy causes.
Is it your job to do something about everything? No, it’s not, but it is your’s and my job. Let me explain.
We have to trust God with both our gifts and our goals.
The first thing the cause-oriented millennial or burdened baby boomer needs to hear is, “You’re not Christ. You’re part of His body. And there is a difference.”
Yes, we are to follow Christ who will one day bring justice to every unjust situation, but we are not Him. He’s called us to follow Him and work to bring justice in this world now, but you cannot accomplish as an individual what God has tasked to the entire church.
Just as you or I can’t fulfill the Great Commission individually, why would we believe we could do so with the Great Commandment? We love our neighbor as ourselves, but not everyone is your neighbor.
Anyone could be your neighbor at any time, but not everyone is at every moment of every day. That’s why God chose to use the Church, not simply individuals, to accomplish His purposes.
He has placed believers in a body with other believers to achieve more than we could on our own. He will use my gifts and your gifts to accomplish the goals He has given all of us.
I can’t have an equal passion for all the needs in my community. I certainly can’t do anything significant to impact them all. But my church can.
So what should a Christian do?
We should care constantly. While some are overwhelmed by the issues of our world, others are quick to dismiss problems and people that do not directly concern them or those like them. This is wrong and the antithesis of Christianity.
Followers of Christ can care about virtually every issue that crosses our attention. We should care enough to pray and take it to God.
Honestly, that is the most powerful act we can do for any issue. We can pray that God would bring justice to an unjust situation and we can pray that should He choose to use us to address that need, we are willing to follow and act.
In general, we should be more caring, not less. But caring doesn’t always require visible, public action. Sometimes, it involves stopping and listening to those who know more about an issue, which brings us to the next thing we can do.
We should listen frequently. There are many issues and problems in which I have little to no experience or expertise, but there are likely people around me who have one or both of those. I can learn from them.
Because churches have become just as isolated and segregated as the world, we may need to step outside of our immediate surroundings to hear from those with a different background and perspective than ours.
We can’t help if we don’t listen to their needs. Too often, our first response is to be defensive instead of empathetic. If we take the posture of a learner, we won’t try to lecture.
As I’m listening and learning, I should be open to God deciding to use me to speak out on behalf of this issue or take action to address the wrongs.
We should act prayerfully. Once we have seen the needs around us and listened to those who have a different perspective, we can evaluate where our passions, giftings, opportunities, position, and needs all intersect.
Where is God working and how can I join Him in that? Where is there an injustice that I can help address? What does my position allow me to do?
What is no one else doing in my community and church that God may be calling me to address? Is there an area that seems underserved in which I can proclaim the gospel and live out its implications?
If you are the first to spot a ministry need, maybe that is an indication that God wants you to be involved in fixing it—not merely tweeting about it or pointing it out to a pastor.
Sometimes, there may be a need and an opportunity, but we aren’t sure if we have the passions or giftings for it. Start serving and pray for God to equip you for that task.
You can’t do everything, but you can do something. You can act strategically by considering who you are and where God has placed you.
That doesn’t always mean doing what’s comfortable or what comes naturally. God may use your pain to minister to others. He may use your privilege to speak out for those without.
Both of those can be difficult steps, but they are almost always part of our obeying Scripture and following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Do Christians have to care about everything? In some ways, yes, but part of the way we care best is by trusting God to work using the entire Church, while opening ourselves up to serve wherever and whenever He leads.
Since some asked for a biblical exploration of justice, I wrote a follow-up post: “What Does the Bible Say About Justice?“