Sermons

Summary: We excuse everything with "I don’t care", but when we see the eyes of those we have offended and hear them speak, we know that we have hurt them. When we see Christ and hear Him at the cross, we can no longer pretend that we don’t care.

I

“I don’t care.” That was the mechanism I used as a boy to fend off whatever punishment my parents gave. “You’re grounded.” “I don’t care”. “No allowance this week.” I don’t care.” And, to tell the truth, I didn’t care. I would just go to some quiet corner and get a book and read. I was quite happy. I didn’t care. “Go to your room and shut the door until I tell you to come out.” “I don’t care”. And I didn’t care. My little room had, in addition to my books, a little radio on which I could listen to University of Kentucky basketball, sadly this year already terminated in March Madness, but not in my boyhood days. The room had my stamp collection, through which, in my mind, I could visit all sorts of exotic locations; and it had two large windows, through which I could sail paper airplanes I had designed. No, I didn’t care. I could amuse myself and forget about whatever it was I had done that put me in that place.

“I don’t care” was my ultimate all-purpose rejoinder, a terrible taunt that told my parents their efforts to discipline me were worthless. A silly slap that let me slide into my own little corner and feel smug. “I don’t care”.

Of course eventually my parents would let me out, and the look on their faces as well as the words from their lips told me … well, let’s leave that for a moment.

II

“I don’t care” is the defense of the whole human race, isn’t it? As long as we can put up that brave front, we suppose that we can get away with almost anything. We can slander someone, making the most outrageous assumptions, and if we are challenged, we can say, “That’s the way it seems to me. I don’t care”.

We can say hurtful things to one another and not feel a thing, especially if we put some distance between ourselves and those we are hurting. Email! Have you noticed that typing stuff to one another creates an emotional distance, and we seem no longer to care how we treat one another? One day at the church where I was pastor, I was working away in my office, and suddenly there came an email that was a copy of something sent by a church member to my assistant pastor. My assistant felt hurt by it, and wanted me to see what had been sent her. Before I knew it, another email popped up, the assistant pastor replying to the church member, copying me. And then a reply to the reply, more pointed, more emotional. By the time we got to the reply to the reply to the reply, I was out of my office, hurrying to my assistant’s office. The door was shut; I knocked, and she said, “Not now.” I identified myself, and she repeated, “Please, not now.” So I was reduced to returning to my computer and emailing both her and her protagonist, trying to intervene before they really damaged each other!

It was all a huge misunderstanding and they are now the dearest of friends. But how easily we lapse into hurting one another and finding ever more sophisticated ways of saying, “I don’t care”.

In fact, when she finally unlocked her office door and let me in, the look on her face and the words from her lips told me … well, let’s leave that for a moment.

III

“I don’t care” is the defense of the whole human race. As long as we can put up that brave front, we suppose that we can get away with almost anything. Thugs take lives with reckless abandon, because they can, and our society has allowed them to be armed. Thieves in pinstripe suits take financial security away from families, because they can, and because those families signed documents they did not really understand. Even preachers pronounce outrageous things about people they do not know, because they do not expect the power of the pulpit to be challenged, and then their detractors take snippets of their sermons and YouTube them, because they can. And all because of, “I don’t care.”

But when you look into the eyes of a mother whose son has been shot … when your see the faces of children whose parents cannot give them a home … when you hear the frustrations of those preached about and against … well, let’s leave that for a moment.

IV

Our God made us for fellowship with Him. At the heart of God from the time of creation was His desire that we live in Him, with Him, and for Him. But we say no to that. We say to God’s great gift of life, “I don’t care”. “If you want me to be shackled to death, I don’t care”. We say to God’s great gift of freedom, “I don’t care”. “If you want me to be chained to illness and limitations, I don’t care.” We say to God’s great gift of harmony, “I don’t care.” “If you want me to be bound to conflict and cacophony, I don’t care.” To all that God has wanted do to for us, we have announced, as if we truly believed it, “I don’t care.” And we have gone off pouting into our own shriveled lives, pretending that we can be quite all right, thank you, just doing our own thing.

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