What Jesus Taught Me About Human Care
Today is one of the most sacred days in Christianity. It’s Good Friday. It’s a day of reflecting upon the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity.
Jesus continues to be my greatest source of inspiration for living life the way I do. There was a time when my faith made no practical sense in the real world. Ironically, I think my experience in childhood of institutional Christianity blinded me from seeing the life that Jesus modeled; a life filled with compassion and commitment to justice.
It wasn’t until college that I began to read more intently the thoughts of my heroes like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and a handful of others that I realized that Jesus’ life had shaped their worldview and practice of human care.
Over the years, I’ve explored the life of Jesus and here’s what I’ve learned about his approach to loving humanity:
- Love does not discriminate nor require prerequisites.
- Jesus gravitated to the margins of society and spent significant time with those who were considered the fringe of culture. He did not center his attention on the most powerful, popular, or polished. Jesus did not place a standard on the kinds of people he would love and care for. In fact, if he did have bias, it was towards those who were ignored, discarded, or undervalued. How bias or selective is your love?
- Care is not just talk. It must be tangible.
- Talk was cheap to Jesus. He did not spend his time talking about how compassionate he was. Jesus embodied love this world in a way that always considered the physical and spiritual needs of people. While it may be nice to tell others about our hearts for compassion via social platforms like Twitter or Facebook, it’s ultimately our actions that provide care for people.
- What can you do today to bring tangible care to a fellow human being?
- Compassion calls us to slow down, stop, and make time for people.
- No matter how busy Jesus was in his life, he always took time to stop in order to care for people. This is powerful. In a day and age in which busyness consumes us, we must never forget that we have to stop (or at least slow down) to take care of others. Who will you stop for today?
- Love by nature is sacrificial and c0-suffering.
- Jesus gave his life so that many others could find hope in life. He said that true love and friendship is embodied in laying down one’s life for another. In addition, he described compassion as an act of “suffering with” others. In other words, caring for others deeply requires us to live along side with them by bearing some of their pain and agony. I think this kind of co-suffering stirs the kind of creativity we need to better care for people. Pain has a way of inspiring much needed action. Who do you suffer with and how will you live sacrificially to bring relief?
- Care must be transparent and honest.
- Jesus was transparent and honest in the way he dealt with people. This kind of straightforwardness was not rooted in an argumentative spirit or a distaste for people. He deeply cared about truth no matter how offensive it may have come across, especially with those that didn’t understand his heart. Jesus’ goal was not to win an argument. His focus was on bringing something that would be most beneficial to those he encountered. When will you communicate what’s really on your heart to the one you love (even if it is uncomfortable)?
- Compassion must seek justice for lasting impact.
- Jesus knew that compassion that does not lead to a whole new life was only bandaging a wound. He spoke up regularly for those who didn’t have the stature to be heard. Jesus regularly recognized that many of the systems that man had created lacked care for those who most needed it. Compassion must lead to systemic change and the other way around. Does your compassion lead to lasting change? How committed are you to justice?
Regardless of where you stand in your own faith and spirituality, I think these are principles that would truly make our world a much better place.