This week in my social media feed, an algorithm showed me pictures from a few years ago, with the heading suggesting that this was a personal, caring act.
The problem: the photos had been a practical documentation at the time; they have never been mementoes of a happy memory, and could never be construed as such.
But somewhere, the social media algorithm thought that putting up pictures from a few years ago was a grand idea, and great way to purport ‘caring.’
While I understand that it was just an algorithm, it reminded me of how often we are told that something is happening because we are cared about. Advertising for a variety of products and services, from home health care to landscaping to auto body shops, all say “because we care.”
However, these are not done because of caring; they’re done for profit margins and customer bases. In fairness, some of these services are done in a caring manner, by caring people. But they remain commercial products, suggesting that the caring is limited to those who pay for them.
In my opinion, this cheapens what caring is really about.
True caring should happen, without needing to articulate “we care;” regardless of budget or circumstance. It doesn’t take an economic exchange. It’s not defined by algorithmically showing old pictures. It happens whether or not someone ever needs home health care, or does their own yard work, or even has a car (that may or may not need repair). Caring is about seeing the worth in people, exactly as they are – not because of what we can get from them.
In the church, we are called to care about people: those we know, those in our community, those whom we encounter every day. We’re called to care as it’s about sharing the love of Christ Jesus with the world. We’re called to care because we are cared for.
So our challenge becomes how we as church demonstrate what true caring means. While society has diminished the depth of meaning, we have the opportunity to reclaim the richness and complexity – not with words alone, but through our prayerful action. Our challenge is to live out our faith so authentically that care is not just a word, but an automatically and consistently integrated reality in all we do.
The world can always use more true caring. Let’s be the folks who make that happen.