Do We Care?
I don’t care.
People are drowning, and I don’t care. All around me there is divorce, abuse, starvation, suicide, drug use, human trafficking, violence, homelessness, and sorrow.
All of that is a blur as I drive past it, focused on getting to work, getting home, to the store, Starbucks, or even to a church service. I see it, but I willfully blind myself. What a horrible realization when, all of a sudden, the blinders fall off. Suddenly the missionary’s stories of the impoverished and famine-stricken masses come to life. The stories of the imprisoned, tortured, widowed, and beheaded Christians around the world are no longer pictures or tales of far-off lands that mean nothing to me.
The more you see, the more you see.
It is so easy to be consumed by deadlines, meetings, little league games, oil changes, dishes, laundry, and the many other things that clutter our list-filled lives. It is so easy to scroll past it all in the few moments of “me time” we get to spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. The picture of the orphaned child now absent a father because he was beheaded by terrorists who raided a church service gets a “like.” The article about the pastor imprisoned for spreading the gospel in a pagan land might get a share, but it probably won’t be read.
We don’t care. People are dying, and we don’t care.
I stood in my living room around five years ago, frozen by the realization that I am entirely selfish. I was appalled by my own apathy and the fact that there wasn’t much I was going to do about it. Neighbors on their way to hell, but I feared making things in my neighborhood uncomfortable or having a door slammed in my face. Too afraid to simply hand someone a gospel tract or invite them to church.
This was a puzzling moment for me, a man who had survived AK-47 fire, RPG attacks, IEDs planted in the road in front of him, mortar rounds hitting his position, and car bombs going off only hundreds of feet from where he slept at night. Me, a man who first hand saw houses made of scraps inside landfills where children played barefoot in sewage and used trash for toys. Me, a man who had seen first hand the aftermath of war.
I sat down at my computer that day and wrote an indictment upon myself in the form of a story. I wrote somewhere around nineteen pages in one sitting and produced a story called “The Midnight Cry.” That story charged me up after I read it back. I eventually did go to all of my neighbors. I found an incredible amount of sorrow on my street, and I talked to the harvesters of that sorrow on their porches, in their living rooms, and on their lawns. But that zeal faded eventually. It always does.
I would love to say that the end of the story is a man who is now fully committed to showing compassion for others. I would love to show you a man that has forsaken all self-indulgence for the sake of those in need. I wish I was that man, but I am just me. Me, a man who has seen all of this and still loves his cool air conditioning and hot coffee. Me, a man who just wants to sit on the couch after a long day at work and get lost in mindless entertainment.
I don’t care. It’s harsh, but how else can you describe not doing something about the things going on around us? We either care, or we don’t. I wonder how many of us do.
That story, “The Midnight Cry,” evolved over five years into a novella called Fate of the Watchman. It took on a life of its own and eventually garnered the attention of a Christian book publisher. I like to think that I’ve evolved some, too, on a micro level. I pray for my persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. I share their stories in my Twitter feed. I sometimes even use that to justify myself as caring. Sadly no. I can and should do more. And not out of guilt.
No, see that is the problem. We so often hear or see something that brings us sadness or guilt, and we act upon those emotions. The problem is that those emotions don’t last. What does last is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5). What lasts is remembering the sacrifice of the Son of God when He saw our plight and did something about it. I can’t guilt you into loving others anymore than I can guilt myself into loving others.
But there is something I can do. I can point to the madness of this world and then point to the Savior. I can show you His compassion and tell you what He would do. No amount of pleading will work. Not in the long-term, that is. Which is why there is no preaching in my book. It is simply a journey. Go see for yourself. Within the redeemed of the Lord dwells the Holy Spirit of God, and only He can impart the lasting compassion you need to become someone who cares.
The truth is that I do care. I just don’t care enough, and maybe I never will. The last thing I want is for people to read Fate of the Watchman and think I’m some super saint. Far from it. I’m just like everyone else. I need a good prodding of the Holy Spirit. I need my eyes to fall over the multitude so that I, like Christ, can be moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36). I’ve matured enough to make no attempt at guilting you into loving people and sacrificing for them. I won’t do that because I’m still carrying that flaw to the Lord and asking him to smooth out the stones in my heart so that the water of life can flow more freely from me to others.
I think it’s important to realize that none of us can do it all. God places people along intersecting paths for a purpose, which means the things you notice are on purpose. Some people have a special burden for the elderly and sick. Some have a burden for orphans. Others have a burden for victims of abuse. We are so unique, which is why all I am doing is pointing. I am pointing to the grief, the sorrow, the trials that others endure, and then I’m pointing to the cross. The picture that resonates the most with you is the one I hope you’ll pick up and focus on.
For me, it was the persecution of Christians by terrorist groups. I have not done nearly enough, but I have agreed to partner in prayer. We can all start there, can’t we? I have also committed half of my royalties from my book to a very important organization called The Voice of the Martyrs. They have workers taking aid and relief to victims of persecution in over sixty countries. They provide bibles, teaching materials, food, first aid, and relocation if possible. I’m not telling you this for a “look at me.” Please don’t think that. I am simply trying to encourage you to take the blinders off and see the hurt others deal with.
How about you and I both admit that we could care a whole lot more? What if we decided to ask the Lord to soften our hearts and show us the multitude? We can so easily say we want to be like Jesus, but do we? There’s so much more to it than changing the way we talk and cutting some things out of our lives. Christianity is not a rule book; it’s a relationship with a compassionate, selfless Savior. “Walking with God” is a phrase we turn and toss around like any other cliche, but really walking with God is difficult. That’s why so many turned away from the Lord (John 6:66). There was always a multitude when it was time for food and preaching. Who stayed up with him all night when He was ministering to people? Who was there with him when he woke up early to pray?
Next time you go to a church event, pay attention to how many people show up when it’s a picnic versus a clothing drive. Pay attention when it’s a Christmas play or fall festival versus visiting the elderly. Would you even be at all of those events to count the people?
Chad is a Christian Fiction Author, Poet, and English Teacher. He was born and raised in Oregon and then spent ten years traveling around the world in the Army as an Infantry Soldier. His passion for inspiring people to find their best life drives his writing and is a constant thread through works of Biblical Fiction and Fantasy. He lives in Central Texas with his wife, sons, and a dog that is far too human.
Chad is published through Ambassador International, a Christian book publisher.
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Lester Sharp is a workaholic, obsessed with the success of his business and oblivious to the world around him. All of that changes when a peculiar stranger comes into his shop asking for food and help. Lester soon finds himself on an impossible journey around the world to bear witness to some of the greatest tragedies a person can know, all frozen in a single moment of time.
In this challenging and gripping novel, debut author Chad Pettit, delivers a supernatural, pulse-pounding adventure in which Lester Sharp is in for the longest second of his life and learns lessons to last a lifetime.
Every purchase contributes a donation to The Voice of the Martyrs. Link to the book: https://goo.gl/3ZKJ1r