Being “carefree” probably seems like a good thing to most people because most of us feel burdened by our “cares”, meaning our concerns. Being “carefree” is almost like being “careless”, although being careless is more about not paying attention; we don’t pay attention because we don’t “take care”. To “care” is to feel concern or interest that something is important, or that it matters – enough to pay attention.
Cares, or concerns, don’t have to turn into worries, but many times they do. Jesus taught us never to worry; however, we probably would not describe Jesus as “carefree”. As Christ, he was a compassionate healer and teacher, deeply concerned about his brothers’ and sisters’ salvation and well-being, as if it were his own. Indeed, he taught us to love others as ourselves. Yet he did not follow those he had healed or admonished around trying to make sure that they got his message and did not sin again. He cared, but he did not smother others with his caring, nor did he become attached to the results of his ministry. Jesus taught us how to be in peace regardless of our concerns.
There was one thing that Jesus did not care about, and that was offending someone’s ego. Sometimes we care in the wrong way, as in caring about ticking someone off and being on the receiving end of their anger. It’s not that we care so much about their ego; what we care about is what the other person will think of us and what they will do or say to us in their negative reaction. Sometimes we are afraid of hurting other peoples’ feelings, but again, it is not so much about the other person as it is about us; we don’t want to look like, or seem like, a mean or unloving person. We care about what others think of us, and we don’t want to be rejected or ostracized.
These sorts of “caring too much” are not what being the Christ is about because it is a caring about ours or another’s image or ego. Yet, can we care too much in Christ - meaning can we care too much for God in others? Jesus allowed himself to be persecuted and crucified for God in others. That’s how much he cared. It is highly unlikely that we will have to face being physically crucified like Jesus, but if we are on the path of Christ, then we will be persecuted and crucified in other ways and maybe many times over because we live in a world that hates Christ and Christ truth: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
It takes deeply caring for the God in ourselves and others to go through this. Those who do not care like this often find the New Age teachings on “unconditional love” very attractive. These teachings make it seem like they can be the Christ without ever having to be persecuted or crucified, or look “unloving” in the eyes of others. Is this possible? Is it possible to be selfish and still be the Christ? Isn’t this like being the rich man who would not give up his worldly wealth? He went away sorrowful because he knew he could not have the kingdom, but he didn’t want it enough – he didn’t care enough – to let go of his “great possessions”. (Matthew 19:22). “Possessions” here can mean not only material possessions, but also social status and acceptance.
The “rich man “wanted the kingdom for selfish reasons, not in order to serve, not because he loved God and Christ with all of his being, but because he wanted something for himself – perhaps more power, more prestige, or enlightenment - meaning an exalted ego. We don’t know for sure, however we do know that he did not want the complete surrender, the selfless service or the sacrifice that the path of Christ requires.
This is what separates the truly caring from those who merely want to make a show of it. And there are many, many New Age teachers who gladly preach the false way of enlightenment through selfishness masquerading as love, and peddle the “fruits” of their brand of enlightenment in how to manifest abundance by manipulating the creative process. But we do not see a whole lot of teachings about sacrifice, surrender and selfless service because these are not popular ideas, and therefore they do not sell. We tend to “buy” what we want to hear, until we realize that that “package” wrapped up and marketed as enlightened truth is not moving us closer to Christ at all. That is, of course, if we care about moving closer to Christ more than we care about glorifying our own ego or creating an easy, “carefree” life for ourselves.
continued in part 2