People don’t care how much we know, until they now how much we care! Isn’t this true? I’ve had the opportunity and honor of serving as a pastor at Emmanuel Church (Bangalore, India), Fairhaven (VA), Highland Park (TN, USA), Banaswadi Bible Church, South Parade Baptist (Leeds, UK), and as Dean of Chapel at SAIACS. I’ve always been challenged to create A Caring Place for these faith communities, particularly for those who visit them.
The word “care” means to cherish someone enough to nourish them. It is the support people receive with the purpose of making them better persons and developing them to be their best. Care is the therapy that looks after those who are hurting in some way. Often people are oppressed by some misfortune evil that has come upon them (Mk. 1:34). Other times they are suppressed due to their own moral weaknesses, or even distressed, and soon become depressed from having to suffer sickness and disease (Mt. 4:23f). In any such event, what people need is genuine care.
Jesus cared for people. His care stemmed from the way he perceived sufferers. Wherever he went, Jesus saw people like sheep without a shepherd, i.e. without any pastoral caregiver, leaving them powerless and without direction. Hence, they were helpless and harassed (Matt. 9:36). Notice Jesus then sought after such people, weary and weighed down by life’s everyday difficulties and the religious demands imposed on them (Matt. 11:28). He invited them to come to him to have their burdens eased and to experience rest–that wholeness and fullness of life that he came to give all people.
Importantly Jesus served people and handled them with care. As God’s Servant, he gently restored people who were like bruised reeds. He rekindled hope in lives that were like a smoldering wick or flickering flame (Matt. 12:20). He realized their need for mercy and justice and through caring acts offered people God’s truth for life. People could cast all their cares on Jesus because he did care for them. He eventually laid down his own life to bring those who trusted in him into God’s caring kingdom of love and light.
Christians, as followers of Jesus, can and must demonstrate Christlike care to all those who are hurting. This is why Jesus, when he commissioned us to go to all the world’s people groups, promised us the presence of his own enabling Spirit (Matt. 28:19-20). So let us dare to care as we share the good news about Jesus. And all while knowing, as I have discovered in my pastoral and evangelistic ministry, that almost always being accepted or belonging comes before believing. How else would needy people possibly trust in Jesus, the One who cared enough to give them liberty from sin, selfish ways, Satan, and sufferings? May our contemporary society identify our churches as caring places where they can come to Christ, overcome crises, and themselves become caregivers!