Taking Care of Each Other
I’ve been thinking lately about how and why we take care of each other.
Some people, like the chronically ill, children, the elderly, and the mentally ill, need more care than others. Some people can’t take care of themselves at all. Others are really good at taking care of themselves. In fact, they’re so good at it that their hard work and planning makes them rich. Some people never seem to be able to even balance their check book.
I believe that our thinking about how and why we care for each other should reflect the truth of humanity’s union with the Trinity in Jesus Christ.
The life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a life of mutual care. For all eternity these three Divine Persons have lived in a communion through which they share all things and take care of one another. The Father has never, and will never, say to the Son “Hey, I’ve got mine – you go get your own!”
It is that life in which Jesus includes humanity. He has included us in a life of taking care of each other and sharing what we have. We take care of each other because that is who we are. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of the Father, anointed by Jesus in the Holy Spirit to participate in this communal life of care for one another.
It’s interesting to see how this Triune Life of taking care of each other is reflected in the law of Moses. The law of Moses gives some idea of what society looks like when it is being influenced by the Triune Life.
And what we see there is sometimes shocking. At least I find it shocking.
It goes against a lot of what I’ve been taught in our individualistic American culture. Here are a few examples of how the Son of God told the Israelites to take care of each that I find shocking:
- The law of Moses endorsed wealth redistribution by telling Israelites who had wealth to, every third year, share their wealth with those who didn’t have it: orphans, Levites, widows, and the aliens among them. (Deut. 26:12)
- While we’re on the subject of aliens, the law of Moses never distinguishes between legal and illegal aliens. It simply says to give part of the third tithe to non-Israelites living among them. Who were these aliens? Were they refugees from famine and political disorders (like the sons of Jacob, the Israelites’ ancestors, had once been in Egypt?) Were they economic immigrants looking for “better work” in Israel? The scripture doesn’t say, it just says to take care of them.
- The law of Moses also endorsed a kind of communal ownership of land. Every 50 years all the land was to revert back to the possession of the family to whom it had originally been given when they entered Canaan (Lev. 25:13-23.) The law even tells the Israelites to base the sale price of land on how many years of use the buyer will get out of it before the next Jubilee year rolls around.
I’m obviously not arguing that we should impose third tithe on people or try to institute a Jubilee year. (Although Social Security is kind of like third tithe.) However, it is striking to me how different that society was in many respects from our society here in America.
And it makes me wonder, how would our society look different if we sought a way of life more reflective of our inclusion in the way the Father, Son, and Spirit, take care of each other and all of us?
~ Jonathan Stepp