“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing.” (I Cor. 13:3)
God created us a certain way. Although we need Him first of all in
our lives and beings, He also fashioned us so that we have need for one
another. For one thing, as is true of so many other species, our need
to group together increases our survival as a species and as individuals
incredibly. We have intellect and emotions and spirit, none of which
should be denied or neglected in terms of stable, healthy nurturance by
responsible, truly caring others. Severe denial and neglect of such
usually produces mean-spirited, character disordered individuals who have no
real idea what true love and compassion are, and who are calloused towards
others AND animals. We all need healthy, secure attachments.
Woefully and tearfully, what seems to be the case far too often nowadays is that interpersonal distance, barriers, and disinterest are exhibited by Christians and others, even though churches regularly give to the poor, showing love in that way. Giving to the poor is so good, but is not enough. People in churches often avoid eye contact, speak briefly, and then turn away, giving the evident message that they do not want to have anything to do with the other Christian standing in front of them. IS THIS LOVE? People attend churches for years only to comment, “Well, I really don’t know anyone there.” One churchgoer, who had cleaned her church for years, told me “When you are out the door, you are on your own.”
Folks, the above is just skimpy, partial love! How can one person really love another and not want to even get acquainted, to know the person, to chat, to connect, to look forward to spending more times together, and to finally nurture and help one another as friends? To be buddies? Where is real Christian fellowship?
What is needed is WHOLE, TRUE LOVE wherein people have real connectedness with one another, in church situations, in family, and in community. Whole love involves intellectual AND emotional exchanges that are meaningful, along with spirit exchanges. When we react with real interest to something someone is telling us, when we exhibit our own emotions in regards to it, when we give eye contact and are animated and enlivened by what we are being told, then, and only then are we really being loving and caring. Then the Holy Spirit is flowing out of us. The Holy Spirit is not flowing out of us to someone else when we are acting aloof or disdainful of them. It is simply not!! When we are acting aloof and indifferent, we are not helping ourselves, or anyone else, or Jesus, or the animals, because we are not helping others to be loving and compassionate. We are promoting their hurtingness, depression, disappointment, and loneliness. Jesus was warm, caring, and had stable, close friendships. He listened carefully, he had compassion, he spoke, and he acted in others’ behalf.
I saw and heard a very prominent preacher on television last evening (who I like very much) stating that love is the most important thing and that we need to show love by serving others. Well, yes, but simply serving, in that we are simply “doing a job for God” is not enough. I know that I, myself, really have come to dislike being “ministered to” by well-meaning persons who will pray with me or for me, and quote Bible verses to me, but have absolutely no interest in getting to know me as a person. Mechanical serving is not enough when it is cut off from real acknowledging of one another as persons.
Interestingly, some of the best brief interactions can occur with checkers in stores. As well as wanting to do well on their job, and wanting us to come back and buy more merchandise from them, they often seem genuinely nice, open, warm, and sharing. I also had marvelous experiences in the two hospitals I was in, in the past for years. Hospital personnel were chatty, listened to me wholeheartedly, and shared from their own lives openly. My gosh, how satisfying and happy! Loved it! Felt so good! Nice times. Felt relaxed and valued as a person. How I wish I could find a church like that around here!!
Somehow people in our culture have diminished so much in their ability to be chatty, to visit with one another, and even to have any idea about why they would want to relate in those friendly ways anyway. People don’t trust one another, and don’t want to bother with one another, which has become too predominantly the norm. That’s dysfunctional.
Well, if we want to help God’s Kingdom to come on earth, if we want to help one another grow in healthy ways, if we want to spare one another the pain of loneliness and isolation, and if we want people to care enough about the helpless, innocent animals to do all possible in their behalf, we will open ourselves up to sincere relatedness to whoever is in our situation. When appropriate, we will extend our hand of friendship and be friends who have the wants and needs of the others in minds, hearts, and deeds.
Each little effort that one of us makes is only a small “drop in the ocean.” But, our world is in tremendous trouble right now, and the animals are suffering most of all. Whatever any of us can do to change the spiritual climate of this planet away from unspeakable cruelty, coldness, and evil and towards warmth, caring, and love, we need to do those things and to keep doing them, all day, every day, as opportunities arise. We need to think about and to do that which is most important. We need to follow the Lord’s guidance in it. We need to be bold and say to Him, “Tell me what to do and how to be. I can’t wait to do better for You and for all those I love” (including the precious animals).
Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart Copyright 2012
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