The Capacity to Care

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What-others-think-pictureI’ve been reading so much on social media, much of it fueled by the vicious events in Paris last week. I’m so grateful for the friends I know who have shared their thoughts, even if there has been a diversity of opinions among them. Even today my friend, Josh Reasoner, shared some thoughts about children who have been affected by the seeming craziness of the world.

I have to admit that with the world being upside-down, my heart literally can’t care for everything in the same way with the same passion…

  • I want IJAM to rescue more children from the international sex traffic/slavery industry
  • I want Kids Alive to open more homes for children at risk around the world who are largely in the shadows of our consciousness
  • I want refugees to find a home. In fact, I want them to have their home back.
  • I want not only objective racism to end, but I also want the subtle beliefs that lingers in all of our heart to be confronted
  • I want the scourge that is abortion to meet it’s demise
  • I want women who have been physically abused in a relationship to find safety and healing
  • I want people to actually care for the poor and not just with more policies
  • I want people to care for those who are homeless and welcome them
  • I want healthy churches planted, I want more mission partnerships much the partnership between Nairobi Chapel and churches here in the States
  • I want marriages to last
  • I want a real shalom between Israel and Palestine
  • I want the vileness of pornography to finally be shown for what it is and to die a quick death
  • And the list goes on. Ok, I don’t really care about Starbucks cups. I’m glad that the media is the only entity (and weird Christians) that seem to think this is important because I haven’t met anyone who really cares much about it…

I know my heart can’t care for all of this in the same way, with the same intensity. My heart has a capacity for caring because I am finite. I can say I’m passionate about all of this, but to be honest, that’s a bit exaggerated (maybe because I want people to think I care about everything equally). Yet, in my finitude I must remember that God is infinite and His capacity to care for those on the margins, for His Church, for people is infinite. He has a huge heart.

The answer cannot be to wall off the capacity to care and to feel compassion. Regardless of what the political and media talking heads say or the conversations around the water cooler, to simply not care is mistaken. In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

To stop loving and caring is to actually harden our hearts and to put an effective roadblock on spiritual formation. We might not agree with each other on the exact solution but simply to close the heart off to any injustice in the world is not an option.To open our hearts toward others by caring is something that we have opportunities each and every day to demonstrate right where we live. Greg Forester wrote in Revisiting Faithful Presence,

“Of course the world is corrupt and failing apart. The gospel calls us to love it and serve it anyway. We must have what Tom Nelson calls hopeful realism – neither closing our eyes to the world’s evil nor forgetting that a higher power, one our eyes can’t see, is already at work, all around us, and also within us.”

But the really good news is that God’s capacity to care is infinite and His promise is one day He will make everything right. This is not a wish dream but rather it finds itself in the deepest longings of our heart. All of us can use a bit more of His loving and compassionate heart in order to act in this way both in great and small ways. But we can also continue to pray that He would have mercy on us for the temptation to wall our hearts off, mercy for those who are suffering in the world, and that He would not tarry in His return to make everything right.

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