Expert Answer Forum
Indifference QUESTION from Lisa January 14, 1999 Is indifference toward an individual in contradiction to Jesus' commandment to love one another?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on January 17, 1999 Dear Lisa:
I'm not sure how you are defining indifference.
Indifference can mean lack of partiality or bias. This is a good thing and is consistent with the Law of Love.
Indifference can mean having no marked feeling one way or another; not liking or disliking. The Law of Love does not require us to like everyone, only love them. There can be many people of whom we neither like or dislike. Most people are in that category in that we don't KNOW them to like them or dislike them. But we are still to have brotherly love toward them; toward the stranger.
Indifference can also mean not caring one way or another. This DOES VIOLATE the law of Love. We do need to care for others, even enemies, and to treat them with love (properly defined).
The story of the Good Samaritan is a story about people who were indifferent to the needs of s stranger sick on the side of the road, and the Samaritan to cared and took pity upon the stranger.
We cannot be indifferent to the spiritual health of others. We must care. We can pray for them if nothing else. We cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others. We must care. If we are in position to help a person in suffering, then we must do so.
So a lack of caring type of indifference that leads us to have no concerns about whether a person is in suffering or not, sick or not, in need or not, would be a violation of the Law of Love.
Brotherly Love is a caring of others, even if we don't like them.
Do not confuse this with the EMOTION of love. Love is NOT an emotion. We may not feel love toward a person who has dropped sick and needy at our doorstep, but we must DO love.
Love is an action (see 1 Corinthians 13) not a feeling.
So the question is NOT, how do you feel about the person; but how to you act toward that person. This does not mean you have to be best buddies, or jump up and down in excitement when they come into the room, but it does mean treating them as Jesus would treat them -- with basic cordiality and courtesy. And if the person is hurting or in need, we cannot be so indifferent as to walk by the person and leave them there to suffer or die.
Even if the person is an enemy, someone who hurt us, if that person was drowning in a lake, we cannot be indifferent to his plight and walk on by and do nothing. We must ACT to save them in some way.
I hope that gives you a little perspective.
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