Busyness, Apathy, and Indifference: A Call to Actually Care

Woman holding her face in her hands

On Sunday, we began a new series called Rebuild, a study through the book of Nehemiah. In the opening verses of the first chapter of Nehemiah, we saw the heart of a man who cared deeply for others. His example is challenging for us.

Nehemiah had a prominent position in the Persian government. He had a life of luxury and privilege. In fact, he was miles and miles away from Jerusalem and the Jewish exiles who had returned to Judah. But Nehemiah was interested in what was going on with his people, the Jews in Jerusalem. When a group from Judah came to visit, Nehemiah asked how the Jews were doing. He cared.

When he heard the report that the city was in shambles and the people were in trouble, Nehemiah wept. He prayed. He fasted. He was devastated over the condition of the Jews and Jerusalem. He had a broken heart.

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re tempted to ignore the needs of others. After all, we’re planning our activities, trips, and hobbies. We’ve got this to do and that to do. We just don’t have time to care. Not only that, we face a constant barrage of bad news from all over the world. Often, we grow apathetic and numb to the needs of others. Is this the way we are meant to live as believers?

Nehemiah’s concern for others speaks to twenty-first-century Christians in a powerful way. We are called to be a people who care. When people are hurting, it should matter to us, especially when fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God are struggling (Galatians 6:10). Of course, none of us can fix the problems of the entire world, but we can certainly help people within our circle of relationships and within our faith family.

If we’re going to care and get involved when others are facing difficulty, we will likely have to give some things up. We’ll probably have to lay aside some of the things that we enjoy or that take a lot of our time. Once again, Nehemiah’s example challenges us. He was willing to leave the comfort and luxury of a Persian palace for a difficult and dangerous mission. What about you? Will your life be about building your kingdom or about a driving concern for the good of others?

Let’s ask God to break our hearts over the pain in the lives of people. Let’s ask Him to help us care, to help us focus not on the furtherance of our own kingdom but of the Kingdom that endures.

Me or We? The Challenge of Looking Beyond Ourselves

I love me phrase handwritten on blackboard

Water. We have no trouble explaining or describing water. We buy it, drink it, swim in it, and the list goes on. What about a fish? How would a fish explain water? It seems evident that fish take water for granted. For water defines a fish’s very existence like air in our environment. Why am I writing about fish and water? Because, as water is taken for granted by fish, we often take the values of our culture for granted. It just happens.

In fact, social psychologists who study sales and marketing strategies differentiate between cultures classified as individualistic or collectivist. Marketing strategies for an individualistic culture like America focus on benefits to the individual while collectivist cultures emphasize the collective good or the good of the whole community.

Clearly, America is driven by an individualistic mindset. In everything, we are so often concerned for ourselves. What impact does this have on me? What benefit do I get? It is strange in our culture to ask the kinds of questions that a collectivist culture might ask. How does this impact others? What effect will my decision have on the community or the group as a whole? These are the very questions that Christians are called to ask; just consider the example of the early church as seen in the book of Acts.

Like a fish doesn’t recognize water or think much about it, we simply don’t realize how much our culture influences our perspectives. While we live in this individualistic culture, as believers we must allow God’s Word to change our thinking and attitudes. Instead of thinking primarily of ourselves, we must think of others. We must be concerned for the good of the church family.

What about you? Will your attitudes be shaped by our culture or by God’s Word? Will you give your time and energy to contribute to the good of the whole or will you be dominated by this individualistic “what’s in it for me” mindset? May we be a community of believers who sacrifices for the good of others, the whole church, and ultimately for the glory of God!