Making Every Issue “Your Thing” Is Impossible

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Our Limited Capacities

I read an article a few years ago that had this phrase: “the infinite extensibility of guilt.” And the idea is that particularly in this digital age—where we can see millions or billions of people through their digital media and follow them on all the social media sites—we have access to people’s hopes, dreams, fears, pain, and suffering. And with that access comes this infinite extensibility of guilt that we feel. Should I be doing something with all of these problems—these intractable problems?

And it may sound pious to suggest that you ought to do something about all of them. But really it’s not, because it doesn’t allow for our own finitude. Only God is able to handle 8 billion people making requests to him. Only God is able to comprehend and handle an entire globe of joys and catastrophes and needs. The human psyche isn’t meant to bear that. And I know the danger is that you’re going to be the opposite of the good Samaritan and you’re not going to care for the needs that are around you. But even there, remember in the parable that Jesus refused to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” What was more important was to understand just what it means to be a neighbor. And what it means to be a neighbor is like the good Samaritan.

Impossible Christianity

Impossible Christianity

Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung speaks to anxious Christians who feel inadequate or overwhelmed in their faith and assures them that they can experience lasting joy in a life of sincere and simple obedience.

When there are needs in front of you that you can meet that are urgent and immediate, we are told to love one another. But of course, Jesus was not trying to give an entire moral philosophy in one parable. He is really trying to get us to action and to movement. And the story is about someone right there who needs help or he’s going to die.

It’s interesting to think that the story wasn’t that the good Samaritan had to go into every town and locate all the people who might be sick or dying and then find a plan to alleviate all of those. Even Jesus, who could literally heal people just by a word or a touch, and yet it says in Mark 1 that he went to the other towns. He didn’t stay when everyone could have been healed if he would’ve just stayed there. So even Jesus understood that, as fully God and fully man, he had bodily human limitations. And in order to do what was his first priority, which was to preach the gospel, he had to go over to the next town.

Only God is able to comprehend and handle an entire globe of joys and catastrophes and needs. The human psyche isn’t meant to bear that.

So if Jesus had limitations, then surely we’re going to have limitations. And we need to allow—without excusing a kind of carefree, easy floating to heaven on flowery-beds-of-ease sort of lifestyle—that none of us are going to be able to have everything be our thing.

We can have the right views, we can pray, we can deal with our own sin, we can have the right sort of personal relationships. But oftentimes the burden is more than that. It’s that you need to do something to solve this intractable problem. And praise God, some people are going be called to do it in very pronounced ways. Other people will do it through their faithful giving and service at the church. And other people will pray. And you know what? They’ll do their best to raise godly kids who are salt and light in the world.

And we need to understand that that’s not just okay, that’s actually who we are as human beings. And to think that we can do everything is to really put ourselves in the place of God.

Kevin DeYoung is the author of Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time.


Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte. He has written books for children, adults, and academics, including Just Do SomethingImpossible Christianity; and The Biggest Story Bible Storybook. Kevin’s work can be found on clearlyreformed.org. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children.


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