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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

The hypocrisy of selective care

Headlining the "H" word is a trip wire in this culture, and I want to exercise a measure of sensitivity in putting it out there. Legalists can argue that the "H" word applies to all of us to some degree, mere humans being transformed into the image of Christ. You know, the filthy rags thing. Still, there is a note about the "H" word we'd better learn.

The world imposes an imprint of selective care on those of us who function in it, which is most of us. Believers aren't cloistered from the self-absorbed mannerisms of culture but must move in and out of that operating system in schools, work, social environments, civic involvements, athletics, traffic patterns, and daily life. This new world isn't totally estranged from the niceties and customs that made the nation great, but almost. In this world care and common decency are often conditioned by new codes of conduct that are selective. Let me list a few----

1. Our biases and preferences have created population subsets that are racially,

socially, economically, or class placement governed.

2. In many situations our actions toward others are dictated by the special needs

evident in their lives. As a result, we teach categories of responsiveness---how to

care for toxic people, unsafe people, loud people, indecisive people, close people,

distant people, type A people, alpha males, submissive people, and every other

distinction in the new thesaurus of human uniqueness. Fully functioning people

often slip through the cracks.

3. There's the scorecard thing too, the belief that many people just don't deserve our

compassion and care. It's quid pro quo American style, giving each other what we

think they've earned. it's not a standard scorecard either. It's individual, devised and

scored by me, myself, and I.

4. Believers often segregate benevolence and compassionate responsiveness to

people based on their spiritual standing. We're guided to a great degree by the "one

another" instructions in the New Testament, aiming our care to fellow believers.

Raising the bar on our concern for "one another" is certainly a valid distinction and

application of our resources. But, turning a cold shoulder to the needs around us

cannot be a proper interpretation of Christ's teaching or other biblcial instruction

regarding our influence in the unbelieving world. This element of selective care

reinforces the internalization of Christ's church in this culture.

5. The intrusion of big government into avenues of care traditionally adopted by the

Christian community further influences the way the church touches human lives in

this new world. Being intimidated by government programs and officials is now a

norm. Churches and church people are often reluctant to exercise care beyond their

walls or outside their denominational parameters.

Lately I've been impressed by the use of the word "everyone" in Scripture. Here are a few-----

Give to everyone who begs from you.

Luke 6:30, ESV

Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please

everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that

they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33, ESV

But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning

or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would

commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 4:2, ESV

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those

who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10, ESV

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.

Philippians 4:5, ESV

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another

and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:15, ESV 

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach.

2 Timothy 2:24, ESV

Honor everyone.

1 Peter 2:17, ESV

The hypocrisy of selective care is that we simply leave aside the biblical guidance about our treatment of everyone. There is a consistency in the way our Lord and the great leaders of the early church expressed their faith to others. They didn't narrow their focus by the fickle trends of a changing culture. Yes, there was an expectation about Christian responsiveness to one another. Yes, there were warnings about being separated from false teachers and being wise about wolves in sheep's clothes. But, there was a concept of everyone in their extension of behavior to the world around them. They spoke it and wrote it.

Everyone is our circle of influence.

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