I’ve noticed this phrase has made its way into our vernacular… Not My Problem. We can even send it as a text… NMP. It’s pretty callous and cold. It highlights our preoccupation with ourselves and our overall lack of responsibility. We watch the news and see terrorism and tsumanis, fires and famines, earthquakes and economic collapses, and maybe we think to ourselves… Not My Problem. Some of us have been inoculated against being contaminated by the plight of others. How easy is it for us to drive past the car that’s broken down, or make excuses why we can’t give to that appeal, or simply avoid the people whom we find awkward or demanding?
I don’t use the phrase much myself, except perhaps when the kids have left their homework until the night before it’s due! But I’m saddened that I regularly see evidence of it in my attitude. It’s so easy to ignore the plight of others, or simply feel too overwhelmed to be able to offer anything. As a Christian, I believe that relationship with God is the most important need people can have. I believe that we will all stand before God one day and give an account for how we’ve responded to him. And I’m persuaded that people desperately need to hear the outstanding news that peace with God is made possible by trusting in Jesus. I believe all that, and yet so often fail to do anything about it. I wouldn’t articulate it like this, but I think and speak and act as though it’s Not My Problem.
Let me tell you, I’m so glad that Jesus wasn’t like me. He engaged with people who were in desperate need. They were abused by their religious leaders and oppressed by their political leaders. They struggled with sickness, both physical and spiritual. They faced death in fear and without hope. Underlying all of their obvious problems, they were guilty of turning their backs on the God who’d given them everything. It would have been so easy for Jesus simply to have turned away and said Not My Problem. But he didn’t! In Matthew’s Gospel we read this about Jesus:
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
Jesus showed extraordinary compassion for people. He connected with complete outcasts. He risked being contaminated by others. He sided with the powerless and vulnerable. He took on the pretence of the proud and powerful. He offered hope to the hopeless and life to the dead. Jesus was serious about the needs of his people. So serious that he went willingly to his death upon a cross, so as to offer the way to peace with God.
Whether I have compassion or not, there is genuine hope for people because of Jesus’ compassion. I thank him for this compassion, and how I wish there were more people like Jesus. How I wish I was more like Jesus! Jesus encouraged his followers to pray earnestly that God would raise up more people who were like him. I’ve been encouraged to pray the same thing. And I will ask God to transform my attitude and those of others so that we too will show compassion and concern, bear others burdens, and share the great news of Jesus, that he has taken their problems and made them his own.