The Problem of Indifference

I have a problem with indifference.

I have come to this realization as I am wrestling with a message about compassion.


Note: This is not my garage. Close, though…

Here’s the key takeaway of that message: “I believe God calls all Christians to show compassion to people in need.”

I really do believe that, by the way. Here’s the problem.

We live in a world so full of brokenness that brokenness becomes normal, and even accepted.

Think of it this way: My garage is a mess. We have three growing children, so the first problem is that the garage is full of things that aren’t cars. There are Rubbermaid tubs full of clothes that either no longer fit, or don’t yet fit. There is a myriad of bikes, scooters, strollers and power wheels. There is a basketball hoop that we roll in and out because our HOA won’t let us leave it out. There are things on a shelf we seldom use, intermixed with Christmas and Easter decorations we use once a year. Because our garage is already cluttered, it’s a small step from “cluttered” to “messy.”

For guests, the primary entry to our home is the front door. For our family, it’s the garage. But, you know what?

I barely notice most of the time. It has been that way for a while, and – for the most part – it will be like that until the kids get older. I used to fight it, cramming our two cars into a two-car garage because I had a moral opposition to letting a vehicle worth thousands sit outside while a bunch of junk is safe and dry. I’ve pretty much given up on that – for now, anyway.

Our world is like that. We are called to be compassionate, and we want to be compassionate (just as much as I want a clean garage).

But the mess, the brokenness, the sin of the world is almost overwhelming sometimes. Where do I start? Who do I help when so many need help? Are the ways I help even…helping?

And as we see the same brokenness – the same messy world – day after day, let’s be honest: sometimes we stop noticing.

  • Our ears are deaf to the cries of the suffering.
  • Our eyes are blind to the plight of the poor who live among us.
  • Our hearts are guarded, especially if we’ve been burned before.

It’s a lot like the story Jesus told about the priest and Levite who walked by a man who had been robbed, beaten and left for dead, before the third stopped. Who is that third person, besides a Samaritan?

I wonder if it’s a person who had been there before, who noticed brokenness because he had first experienced brokenness himself.

More than that, the “Good Samaritan” is Jesus. Jesus, who noticed the broken because those are the ones for whom He came. Not the ones who pretend to be fixed. But the ones who are clearly broken, at least to those whose eyes, ears and hearts are open to noticing.

But my indifference is not okay. I follow the One who wrapped perfect compassion in flesh and blood.

So, what does that look like?

I have to notice. Even if the cries are hard to hear, I need to listen. Even if the plight is hard to look at, I have to see. Even if it hurts, I am compelled by Christ’s love to share that love. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not right.

Who are the ones who stop rather than walk by?

The ones for whom someone else has already stopped. The ones who have been broken.

That’s you. That’s me.

I am called to show compassion, because I have been shown compassion.

When we gain Christ, you and I forfeit the chance to be indifferent. And that makes us different.

One thought on “The Problem of Indifference

  1. 🎶”Give me Your eyes for just one second ….” 🎶 This reminds me of that song (which i love).
    What a thought provoking and challenging blog! Thanks for sharing this.
    It’s true we don’t often notice people/situations right in front of our face who desperately need our help, as we busily scan the horizon for people/situations to “help” according to our own terms.
    I’ve found this issue to be a kind of double edged sword. There is, as you said, so much brokenness all around us. There are so many people in my world, little kids 5, 6, & 7 years old who are broken, or in the process of being so. It’s hard to absorb. The most bitter pill I’ve ever swallowed is the one when I realized I’m not being called to help fix everything I see and know about. How can that be?!? I’m so good at fixing things! (My arrogance is limitless)
    The analogy I have is, God has put a plate of things in front of me. I must use every ounce of strength, and all the gifts He has given me to work on these issues on my plate. But you may have something on your plate that interests me. There may even be something on your plate I think I could handle. But when/if I take the initiative and insert myself, uninvited, into something on your plate, I make the situation worse.
    Just because I see an issue, doesn’t mean I’m being called to help. No matter how much I think I can be of service. But God HAS called me to pray. And He has promised to hear my prayers. And that’s all He needs of me sometimes. No matter how much I think He needs my help.


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