Why should I care about others?
How is life to be lived? Is it about getting and being as much as you can? Or, is there something more? If so, then what and why? And, how should it be lived out?
For most people in the world, regardless of what they say, life is actually about getting as much as you can and doing or being as much as you can. Jesus, in Matthew 6, addresses this question and contrasts it with the way he has called us to live. Our society has been very heavily influenced by the Gospel, and so the “Christian" approach to life is seen even in those who are enemies of the Gospel. Yet, as our society rejects its Christian foundation, the rationale for this “Christian” behaviour is lost and with it the behaviour itself.
For a Christian it reads this way: We were created to be like God, Gn 1:26,27, who loved us so much he gave his Son. This defines our purpose, what were created to be and how we are to live. Jesus said that there are two great commandments upon which all the rest depend. They are to love God with all your heart and to love others as you love yourself. These commandments do not replace God’s laws, but are the motivation for God’s laws, which are all given for our good. So, love leads us to fulfill the law and is the highest expression of God’s will for us. Social Justice (and evangelism) is an application of these to larger issues than merely our personal relationships. Throughout history Christians have been at the forefront of these issues, in areas like orphanages, education, the abolition of slavery, charitable organisations of many kinds, e.g. The Red Cross, World Vision, and the principles that underlie our democratic system of government and our legal system. Concerning involvement in such issues, the Bible says that if we see someone in need of food and we give them a blessing with our mouths but do nothing about their hunger, James 2:14-17, then what good is it? To be a Christian means to be involved.
For those who have lost this foundation, and with each generation this becomes more pronounced, this rationale for caring is lost. So, for example, we see in our society that the ruthless killing of tens of millions of unborn children is nothing and in fact those who protest against it are portrayed as the uncaring ones. However, why should we care if all life is not from God and precious? Why should we care if life is about getting as much as you can in the here and now? Why should people have to sacrifice and accept pain and cost in their lives if there is no God and no meaning and purpose to life? In the 20th century this approach to life found its fullest expression in the Nazi Party in Germany and Communism in the Soviet Union and China. These three instances account for more lives lost and more suffering then perhaps all the rest of the wars in history combined. It was the horror of these events which has stayed the full expression of this godless approach to life. However, this approach to life has not not gone away.
So, the question for our students is, why should I care about others
- God as creator and our creation in his image as the foundation for all of life
- The ultimate reality of the universe is a personal God who is love and full of purpose. It is not impersonal and lacking meaning.
- We were created to be like God
- The two great commandments, which sum up all the others, are to love God and to love our neighbour
- This love is the motivation behind all God’s laws and in turn leads us to fulfill them
- Faith without works is dead – we must live out our faith
- History of Church being involved in the spears of the Gospel and social justice issues
- History of the world shows the outworking of a godless agenda with the Nazi’s and Communism as some examples
- How Jesus dealt with outcasts and the weak
- Current key issues, e.g world poverty, abortion
Genesis 1 - God as creator and Gb 1:26-28 - created in God’s image
Exodus 20:1-17 - the God who created and who redeems (Israel here and now for us the Church) tells us how to live
Isaiah 40 - the greatness of the one who made all things, who gives strength to those who wait for him
Isaiah 42:1-9 (especially v5) - it is the creator of all things who speaks to us
Isaiah 45:14-25 (especially v18) - there is only one true God, so trust in him and not in idols (read, anything we trust in other than the Lord)
John 1:1-18 (see especially v1-5) - All things were created by the Word and he is our light (that is our life, or gives light/life)
Acts 14:14-18 - God created all things and he has not left himself without a witness
Romans 1:18-32 - God created all things and by them has made himself known to all people but in rejecting him the result is all kinds of sin.
Col 1:15-20 - Jesus is the centre of the universe, not us
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Matthew 22:18ff - love God and love your neighbor, which is the motivation behind all God’s laws, and which leads us to fulfill God’s laws
Romans 12 - what it is like to live as a Christian
Matthew 18:21-35 - forgive as you have been forgiven
Matthew 5:1-12 - the beatitudes, how God wants us to be and his blessings
Psalm 1,18,119 and Proverbs 1-9 - obeying the Lord leads to a happier life
https://bible.org/seriespage/micah - detailed overview and analysis of Micah, with application sections for today
The Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching - Wiki space with an overview of the teaching of the Catholic Church (does not appear to be an official page)
Can their Be Ethics without God? - brief article on the foundation of ethics. has good comments about attempts to do away with the need of God in ethics.
God, Naturalism and Morality - longer, more academic article
Ethics are Obsolete - one minute audio which summarizes the issues really well
- Ravi Zacharias YouTube video answers this question. Great references to legacy of Communism and problems with relativism when it comes to right and wrong (** Ravi Zacharias is excellent, great thinking and very entertaining speaker.)
How Christianity changed the world - Amazon Kindle link
John Stott Issues Facing Christian Today - Amazon Kindle Link
Social Experiment about how we like some people but do not like others (many such examples on YouTube)
Ideas/Strategies for Lessons
Why should we care? Get students to brainstorm all the possible reasons why we should care about others. Discuss, lead to appropriate Bible references. Read and discuss.
Focus on Key passages and discuss
Look at YouTube Social Experiment videos. Discuss the possible reasons behind people’s behaviour and evaluate their behaviour. Make it personal, why do we do what we do? Ask, where does this evaluation comes from?
Scenarios taken from Wingclips - what is the right thing to do? Why? What about what happened in the clip
Focus on well known movies suggested by students which raise ethical questions and discuss how the writers handled the theme and how Christian might view it
Does obeying God leads to a happier life? Debate
Research the largest losses of life due to war or persecution in history. What was their foundation? May need to research Nazism and Communism.
How have Christians lived out their faith in helping the world? Look at how Christianity has changed the world.
What does it all mean to me? Look at organizations (See Making a difference in the world unit) and think about how we could get involved
Matthew 6:25 - Jesus says life is more than food and clothing. If so, then what is life about? Get students to write a letter to themselves to be read in 20/40/60 years time, stating how they would like for their life to have turned out in if they had lived the way they think it should be lived