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

5 comments so far

  1. Pastor Jonathan on

    John Stonecypher emailed me this comment which I think is a very helpful addition to what I’ve said in this post:

    Some really good observations, Jonathan. What I notice in the Bible is a deep respect for the boundaries between persons. Each person is responsible for the stewardship of his own life and property, and each experiences the results of the quality (or un-quality) of that stewardship. Israel as a nation is un-ashamed that some people have more stuff than other people.

    But the Bible is also clear that my neighbor’s welfare is also partly my responsibility. If I see a human being who lacks the basic necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing, medicine, basic human compassion), and I can provide those needs, but choose to not do so, I have failed in my responsibility to my neighbor. Israel as a nation was un-ashamed of encoding these responsibilities into law. And when Israel as a nation failed to meet these responsibilities, Yahweh sent them a prophet to warn them of the consequences of their inhumanity to each other.

  2. Boyd Merriman on

    That always sounds nice to the average ear, yet we cringe at the thought of becoming a ‘socialist’ country. We say enough to social security when more seems to be coming out of our pockets now than what comes in during our retirement (I suppose they forget the other benefits that come along as well).

    But aside from that, we, as Christians really need to get to down to our responsibility in that it is the realm of the Church (all denom) to take care of the people, not the social government, which in this country (USA) are not allowed to get involved in Church affairs. But that does not mean the government cannot carry out these responsibilities.

    But the more the government gets involved, the more it costs us up front. So our choice is to not just pay blindly out of a paycheck (if you don’t see it, you don’t miss it) but to become an active care taker via the Church, and community.

    The best example I can see in “inclusion” is the popular TV series, Extreme Home Makeover, where Ty and his gang takes on a home and rebuilds it from scratch in only one week! What is amazing is how these people include all of the community, without regard to race, ethnic background, religious back ground, education, ability to pay or anything. What else is eye opening to me is that the people they are rebuilding for are already involved in community service, serving others in need even while their own homes are falling down around them!

    I see the Trinity in action all through the project! Sometimes, they even go so far as to help rebuild and uplift the organizations these people are involved in so they too can continue contributing to the community as the community contributes to them! I huge circle of people, which can reach across the nation (blood drives, etc) are being affected just by one home being built for a deserving family.

    That is the Trinity in action!


  3. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for the comments Boyd! I appreciate you thinking with me about how society – government, church, and even reality t.v. – can better reflect the Triune Life in which we’re all included.

  4. sir alexander moore on

    i dont understand why its so hard for a group of people to come to a understanding on overall care for each other. Yes its the concept of a perfect world but on a small scale as far as im thinking for now. i would say may be about 10 people to start just simply taking care of one another. equality. stop being selfish. this is why the goverment can still collect taxes from us, cause we are not taking care of each other.

  5. sir alexander moore on

    i dont give a $#!+ if you belive in god buda or a six foot cat beast. just take care of each other. dame!!!! its that or dont complain when pokie ramone break in your $#!+ and steal your tv so they can feed their family.

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