In the beginning God cared. God’s Spirit ‘brooded’ over the waters of the new creation, meaning God doted over the world like a mother bird tenderly cares for her young in a nest (Genesis 1:2). Yes, God created a universe that he loved with unfathomable and endless care.
God Created Us to Care
If caring directly for his creation wasn’t enough, God designed a role for us in which we attend to creation needs. Could God have cared for creation better without us? Yes, without question. But God’s plan was an is that we, his people, care like he does to bring glory to himself. He works through us. That is part of the reason why God pronounced people ‘very good’ even though the rest of the creation was ‘good.’ How does God’s care through us work?
God created us in his image. This means that he seeks a relational connection with us and that we represent his interests on earth. We are his care-reach into this world, his creation! Daily we respond to God’s assignments for us to meet the needs of others he puts in our paths. The image is his way of connecting with us so that we can reflect him in our care for a lost and dying world. We care because he cares for us and through us. It’s our spiritual DNA.
Caring is Our Calling
How does care relate to our calling? Christians respond to two calls from God. The first is the call to salvation. Every believer answers Jesus’ call to unite us with him. It is a one-time occurrence that fastens us into his grip. He will never let us go.
The second call gives our saved life purpose. All true believers are created in God’s image which issues forth in responsibility that each Christian expresses uniquely. God gave us a mission in life, a calling, a plan. Some like to think of it as a purpose. We consider this one aspect of his sovereignty, his rule over us. God created each of us with unique intention. We must respond in care for whatever he wants us to do.
The Source of All Care
God is the source of all care.
Harvard University professor, G. E. Wright once wrote, “God works in this world through people. He has his people, whether they know it or not, who serve as his agents, doing what is appropriate for the immediate need.”
Wright continues, “Our problem is to know and do what we are called to do. But by failure of mind and will, we seldom get our duty straight or do what we know we should.”
We struggle to align our life’s desires with God’s assignments.
How does God’s care for other people through us? Joseph and Moses illustrate. Recall that Joseph’s brothers come before him in Egypt believing Joseph will soon punish, perhaps even execute them. Instead, Joseph tells them he intends to care for them!
Remarkably, when Joseph is ready to die, he assures his brothers, “God will surely take care of you.”
Genesis 50:24 and 25
Joseph’s care was an expression of God’s care that would not end when Joseph died. In fact, over 430 years later God sees the Egyptians abusing the enslaved Israelites, cares deeply for them, then sends Moses to Egypt (Exodus 2:24-25) to care for his people by leading them out of Pharaoh’s bondage. Like Joseph’s care, Moses’ care was God’s care.
From Care About to Care For
Who cares? We who follow Jesus care for others like he did throughout his earthly ministry. For example, Jesus met people’s most practical needs by giving them food and healing them. He continues to care from heaven today through us. We care because he cares. Caring for others should be second nature to us. But we need to learn from God’s care. He cares about us before he cares for us. Do we care about others? When people say, “I don’t care,” what they typically mean is I don’t care about because that precludes not caring for.
A dark world cares little for the needs of others. Jesus came to shine light because he is the light. That is why Jesus tells us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). From experience we learn that light shines brighter in darkness, and it’s usually darkest before the dawn.
Jesus explained, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus Commissioned Us to Care for Others
Jesus set the standard for care in his brief time on earth. Some people argue that living for Christ should focus only on witnessing to others and living a holy life. They are 100% correct. But do they care? If not, they may be confusing cause with effect. It is precisely in caring for others that we live out Gospel love which Jesus works in and through us. He gives us opportunities to witness often through caring. Holy living includes caring for others; it in no way conflicts with a gospel witness.
God wrote his care plan care into his law. Jesus taught us that the law is God’s righteous standard that reveals his character. Very clearly, the law shows us what God is like, and therefore, what we should be like. No wonder Jesus once said that the whole Law can be reduced to two commands: Love the Lord our God and Love our neighbor as yourself. Loving our neighbors is not just a feeling but involves actively caring for them. True love expresses God’s care.
To illustrate, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to teach his disciples that real Christ followers genuinely care for others, particularly those who are injured or suffering. The Samaritan gave the kind of care Jesus gives. After all, Jesus said if you care for others, you do it for me (Matthew 25:40).
When does God stop caring for us either directly or through others?
Although he will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes and give us a new song in our hearts, God’s care never ends; God will care for us eternally. Will we need to care for others in heaven? Others will no longer need our care, nor will we need theirs for our heavenly Father will care for us all perfectly and throughout all eternity.
That means the time to care about and for others is now. The opportunity for us to care for others ends at death. In part 2 of our study on care we will address the question, “Who Cares for the Caregiver?”
Reflection and Action:
• Connect with God daily as you walk with him in his care.
• Reflect on God’s holy character each day as you seek to emulate his care.
• Accept God’s call and mission for your life by sharing the gospel and caring for others.
Written By—Dave Deuel, PhD
Dave Deuel is married with four adult children, one daughter has Down syndrome. He also has a sister-in-law who has an intellectual disability. He is Academic Dean Emeritus for the Master’s Academy International, Senior Research Fellow Emeritus and Strategic Alliance SME for the Joni Eareckson Tada Disability Research Center, and Catalyst for the Disability Concerns Issue Network, the Lausanne Movement.
He served as Old Testament professor and department chairman at the Master’s Seminary for 10 years and in pastoral roles of local churches, five of which were church plants. He is currently elder for pulpit and interim pastor for area local churches in upstate New York.
 G. Ernest Wright, The Old Testament and Theology (New York: Harper & Row, 1969) 129.
Disability in Mission: The Church’s Hidden Treasure outlines a radical change in approaches to missiology, missions, and praxis for the twenty-first-century global cultural context. It explores a pattern whereby God works powerfully in missions through disability and not in spite of it.