A few days ago I had a young lady–a student at the school where I serve–ask me a question that was, I suspect, far more insightful than she realized, or even intended it to be. She had been in my office several different times over a two day period because of a discipline issue that needed to be dealt with, and her question came toward the end of the last of those visits. She looked at me and asked, “Why do you care so much?”
I confess, I was temporarily speechless. I recognized immediately that it was a powerful question, and I was able to stammer out, “That’s an excellent question.”
My mind began to wrap around the question fairly quickly, and it took me very little time to come to–and express–my next realization. “There is no way I can answer that question without including the Lord in the explanation,” I told her. I did not intend to come across with a holier-than-thou attitude or sound as if I am somehow more receptive to the Lord’s influence in my life than anyone else, but I quickly realized there is no other explanation for why I care about that young lady, or anyone else for that matter.
After all, if it were not for the Lord, my relationship with Him and my desire to serve Him, why would I care? What anyone else does with their life would matter to me not at all so long as it did not interfere with what I wanted to do with my life. If a young person wanted to skip school every day, get high on drugs, get pregnant or father a child out of wedlock, or ______________ (just fill in the blank with whatever), I would not care.
As I think about it further, this is the exact mindset that the world has. The “I’m okay, you’re okay” approach and the entire idea of relativism is premised on the notion of you do your thing, I’ll do mine, and as long as they don’t conflict, who cares? Taken to an extreme, of course, even in the opinion of unbelievers, this is considered a disorder. A person who cannot form a healthy relationship with someone else is likely to be diagnosed with an attachment disorder. In fact, I had a mental health professional tell me once, in her attempt to put the severity of the disorder in a particular young man into layman’s language, “If the two of you were walking down the street and you got flattened by a tractor trailer, his reaction would simply be, ‘At least it wasn’t me.'”
Jesus was different. He came to the world and set an example that was completely different from the one set by anyone else ever before. He did care about those who were different than Him, who were rejected by society, who were considered unworthy of the time and attention of anyone else. In other words, lots of people in Jesus’ time did not care about anyone else.
So, why do I care? Well, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15, ESV). And what are His commandments? He answered that question, too:
“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets'” (Matthew 22:34-40, ESV).
So that’s it–I care because I love Jesus, and He has commanded me to care. Fortunately, He has also, through His Spirit, given me a heart that really does care. But without Him, and without His influence, as much as I hate to admit, I would probably have had to answer that young lady by saying, “I don’t care. In fact, I couldn’t care less.”