Several good men, one being my husband, introduced me to the idea of taking care of your own, responsibility, obligation, honor. That means if someone who belongs to you sends out a distress call, you are required to respond. It’s not optional, it’s a mandate. That means if an elderly woman from your circle calls you up at 2 AM because she can’t find the remote control among the sofa cushions, you have to show up and help her out. Doesn’t matter if she’s crazy.
Those are some really old-fashioned values and not all that common these days. I come from a much more dog eat dog world, where you are truly on your own. Help is not on the way, not ever. My family was far more mercenary and those ideas rubbed off on me. I was totally on my own in the world.
I once thought I was defective, as in odd, as in, how could I believe something like that? How come I never learned this stuff about family obligations, about blood being thicker than water, about honor and taking care of your own? Turns out much of the world is precisely like that, very self-absorbed, very dog eat dog. I wasn’t abnormal at all, I was simply reflecting what I had seen all around me. We become products of our environment to some extent.
Taking care of your own, one for all and all for one, is such a foreign concept, something from back in the days of old-fashioned barn raisings. It’s an idea I’ve embraced however, a bit of left over chivalry perhaps, where you are always reaching down to lift others up and bail them out when necessary. Because they belong to you. If you are needlessly suffering, that reflects poorly on me.
Sadly, those ideals are not all that common anymore. Today honor and responsibility can be long forgotten, quaint, ideals. People tend to abandon their own children, and marriage as a committment, isn’t so committed anymore. People move around a lot for economic reasons, so those community roots are being lost, too.
Blood is thicker than water, and in this context I am actually thinking of the blood of Jesus Christ, the family ties that bind us together at the foot of the cross. The Body of Christ as a whole, being like a tribe, a family, and we all being obliged to look after one another.
There’s a fracture there, just as there is a fracture within the culture at large. I’m not speaking of any particular local church, just the over all Body of Christ at large, at least in the Western world. Many local churches are in fact doing exactly that, taking care of their own, often with very limited resources. They’re already stretched thin and exhausted. I simply mean that in an ideal world, no Pastor and family should ever go without, no member of the congregation should ever be homeless, no one should ever be alone.
One reason why people went to church in the first place was because we knew we couldn’t go it alone, not without Christ for sure, but not without the church family either, the community. Today we’ve become more of a collection of rugged individualists, strong independents and special snow flakes alike, all demanding to know what we might get out of the deal. What’s in it for me personally? Sadly a lot of Western churches can’t answer that coherently. Church is less like family today and more like entertainment, worship music, lighting, mega churches, selling CDs and books, branding celebrity speakers.
Not all mind you, not all.
I’m reminded once again of John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” There is such power and authority within the Body of Christ, so seldom recognized and utilized, but quite real just the same. The power to change the whole world through Him.
Today someone asked me what I thought would happen if we all got together and followed John 13:35. I suspect that within about a month, the world as we know it today would be completely unrecognizable.
*** “All for one and one for all,” is actually not from the bible, it’s from the Three Musketeers. “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno.” Ironically, one of the first known uses of the phrase was during a conflict between protestants and Catholics that eventually lead to the 30 year war in Prague, but I’ll just stick with the 3 Musketeers.