Giving Up Apathy For Good - James 1:22, 27; 2:8, 13-19; 4:17 - Wednesday Night Reflection
“I don’t know. You want me to fix something, or do you want something from somewhere?”
“I don't care. What do you want to do!”
“It doesn't matter. Well, since I have a meeting, let’s get some thing out. Do you want to eat there or bring it back home?”
“I don’t care. What do you want to do?”
“It doesn’t matter. What do you want to get?”
“I don’t care. What do you want?”
You see what I mean. Like I said, it’s a wonder that we ever eat anything. (Of course, these are the times that Joshua is not part of the conversation, because depending on what he wants, he’ll be quick to tell you exactly where he wants something from and that we’re bringing it home to eat.)
It’s one thing to not care what you eat and where you eat…however, I would even suggest that if someone were to pick somewhere you didn’t like or wanted something you didn’t really have a taste for…suddenly, you’d care. However, like I was saying, it is one thing to not care about what or where you eat, but it is quite a different matter to look into the world and not care the things you see.
We look into the world and see:
- Someone with their arms full trying to open a door.
- A waitress who is behind in serving us because the rest of the waitstaff have called in sick.
- A family struggling to care with their special needs child.
- A parent struggling to raise their child after they have been abused or abandoned by the child’s other parent.
- Violence being carried out against students, teachers, and staff in our schools.
- People viewed and treated differently because of the color of their skin or the language they speak (or don’t speak).
- Children who are hungry. Children who are abused. Children who are neglected.
- Women, men, and children abducted and sold into sexual slavery.
- Men, women, and children without shelter in sub-freezing or 100+ temperatures, snow or tropical-storm-like rains…the kind of weather we wouldn’t leave our pets out to endure.
- Elderly who are forgotten or who have outlived their family or who are abused or neglected by their family members or care staff.
- A world where trees are dying, water is poisoned, the ground is contaminated, and God’s creatures are disappearing.
- Companies making profits off of slave or substandard labor while we enjoy their products.
- Ethnic or faith groups being eliminated by violence because they are the minority in their country and/or seen as a threat by those in power who want to stay in power.
I could go on and on listing the difficult, tragic, or just plain evil situations that we see when we look out into the world. It can become almost overwhelming. The trouble is that there are those, possibly some of us, possibly me, that look at some or any of these situations, and we turn our backs…we walk away…we just don’t care
Why don’t we care? We don’t care because the situation doesn’t affect us directly. We don’t care because we think something else is more important. We don’t care because we’ve tried all that we can think of and nothing has worked so it is easier not to care. We don’t care because we’ve decided it is easier to be callous than to have our hearts breaking daily. We don’t care because it would be inconvenient to do anything about it. We don’t care, because doing something might cost us. We don’t care because we like the lifestyle we have. We don’t care because we want what we want, it doesn’t matter how it affects anyone else. We don’t care because those people are not like us—they don’t look like us, they don’t talk like us, they don’t smell like us. We don’t care because it’s happening on the other side of the world. We don’t care because those people look like our enemies. We don’t care because those people are our enemies.
Into this we hear James, the brother of Jesus, say through his letter to those seeking to follow Christ, but find themselves scattered:
…be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves… Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress...You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”… For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith… Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.”
My brothers and sisters, we have to care. We either need to continue caring, or we need to start caring, or we need to learn to care. Any of those excuses that we might use to not care could have been used by God to not care about us. He has tried and we have ignored. He is holy, we are sinful. Saving us was not only inconvenient, it was painful and costly. He came to us as Jesus…and James watched and learned as his older brother, regardless of how tired He was, regardless of how emotionally wrenching it might be, regardless of knowing ahead of time He would be betrayed and deserted, He cared. He cared enough to journey to the cross. He came and cared, despite knowing that He would end up on the cross. He cared enough to offer his very life for folks who did not, and some who still do not care.
My brothers and sisters, if we have struggled with apathy, let us take it to the cross of the One who always cares, nail it there, and leave it—that we have hearts that are moved to action with all that we see.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.