Monday, February 22, 2010

Figuring Out What You're Responsible For

It takes some real thought and experience to decide what you are responsible for in life. In fact, it is something that I guess is never really settled in life. We figure and refigure about this.

If my friend is in trouble, how much responsibility do I feel to take their side. What will I do practically to help, if I can. If a stranger is in need, how much responsibility do I feel and what will I do? Will I just think of their trouble and walk on, or will I perhaps, stop, and talk to them, and then decide whether to take any further action.

Or, say I have caused somewhat of a conflict. Should I just move on and let everybody deal with it however they choose to, or should I try to smooth things over?

I know someone who is really struggling. Should I just think kindly of them or actually contact them? When I pray for someone, when does my prayer become false because as the 'Housemartins' used to sing: "It's time to end the prayer. Listen what I'm saying. Get up off of those knees!"

Clearly, the answer varies from situation to situation. In some ways, I am responsible for everything - for all my fellow humans in this world. Or, at least I owe others something, whatever that may mean in this situation or that. But, I am also limited. How I define my limitations in relation to my fellow humans' needs determines my character.

To feel some burden or responsibility for others troubles, even when you haven't caused them, is to feel some of the Spirit of God in your soul. But, as Paul says, we "bear this heavenly treasure in earthen vessels." How to bear this holy love and burden in pots of clay, that is the question.

But, for this post, I want to conclude by saying that looking out at others' trouble and walling yourself off from it by saying: "it's not my problem," just seems against the Spirit of God in this world. In the next post, I want to get a little farther into this question about what it means to live with concern for others while coming to terms with your own personal limitations/needs.