On several occasions in the gospels Jesus is said to be 'moved with compassion' and the phrase has me reflecting on my level of compassion; more specifically it has me wondering if my compassion is even ANYTHING like the compassion of Jesus.
It is a bit scary that I might be cut from the same Pharisaical cloth.
One of my favorite interactions with Jesus is that of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. I love the idea that Jesus, knowing He is going to raise Lazarus, still waits and weeps with Mary and Martha. What enormous compassion! He did not need to weep with them. He knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus in just moments.
But something else strikes me today. Remember when He waited to go until after Lazarus had been dead for 4 days already? He shows up and Martha says, "Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:32) Here is something to think about: I think Jesus could have said, "You're right! If I had come when you asked, your brother would not have died."
She knew Jesus would heal him. After all, she had see him heal time and time again. It is as though he was saying, "You would not have come to know me more and deeper than you are about to know me. You would not have been prepared for an even greater revelation of me than you had already known."
God's silence in our lives means He is prepared to bring into your life an even greater revelation of Himself than you have ever known. When God is silent, start watching for what he is about to teach you about Himself. This will require faith, trust, and anticipation.
What about this? Maybe we need to read the story of Zacchaeus with the realization that this is a, man who desperately wants to see Jesus. This is a desperate sinner who longs to see Jesus but can't. The reason he can't see Jesus is because in the way are all the crowds of Jesus-followers. These are a lot of people who already see Jesus and perhaps they are blocking out the sinner and despised tax collector. They don't even notice the incredibly needy sinner just behind them who wants desperately to come to Jesus. These people likely already knew Jesus was the Messiah. That's why they followed him, but in the midst of it they left Zacchaeus to the side....the one who desperately needed and even WANTED to see and know Jesus. Isn't it interesting that one thing changed since the time of Jesus in that it used to be the sinners, whores, and drunks that came running to the compassion of Jesus and the Christian elite who hated Christ? So what has changed now that it is the lost who hate Christ and even the mention of Christ? What changed? The compassion of Christ? I'm leaning on no.
Dr. Paul Brand wrote a book called The Gift of Pain. He has had exposure to great pain and has learned a great deal about it. He has seen several different cultures and their response to pain and how that affects those within the culture. I found his perception of American culture and its response to pain very interesting. “...a society that seeks to avoid pain at all costs. Patients lived at a greater comfort level than any I had previously treated, BUT THEY SEEMED FAR LESS EQUIPPED TO HANDLE SUFFERING AND FAR MORE TRAUMATIZED BY IT.” (EMPHASIS mine)
We are one of the only cultures in the world, which avoids pain at all cost. The pain relief industry in America is a more than $63 billion A YEAR industry. What has been the result of that avoidance?
Because of our exceptional avoidance of pain, we have continually made ourselves more and more unable to handle suffering.
What I have challenged myself with as a Christian is to try and understand what compassionate love is going to look like with this information.
The Latin break down of “compassion” is “com” + “patti”, which ends up meaning “to suffer with”.
As a Christian, I have been called to compassion toward those around me. I have been called to SUFFER WITH those around me.
Now as an American Christian, this is going to be a greater challenge. For me to be compassionate I will need to suffer with others; but in order to suffer with others, I will need to give up trying so hard to avoid pain.
It is no wonder being compassionate is so difficult!
“I learned that pain sends a signal not only to the patient but to the surrounding community as well. Just as individual pain sensors announce to other cells in the body, ‘Attend to me! I need help!” so do suffering human beings cry out to the community at large.” – Dr. Paul Brand
Begin pretending now.
Pretend the world needs you though it does not revolve around you
Pretend rest for the restless resounds in relationship with you
Pretend you have the secret which is salve for the serrated heart
Pretend within you wells wisdom that is the antithesis of arrogance
Pretend you are capable of a compassion reserved for fairy tales and far-off lands
Pretend your hands can heal the heart of the untouchable
Pretend you are different from those who look just like you who hate those who don't look just like you
Pretend that a disgusting world which wants to be wonderful depends on your touch your voice your love
Pretend as though pretending enough can produce a reality others can only pretend.
God my God, When I look at those who have hurt me or have hurt someone close to me, teach me to see where that person has been hurt. Speak to my heart that I may see the hurtful person in light of a hurting person who now has no idea that they are in need of the forgiveness and compassion I would demand in my own hurt.
Where has that person been hurt? What has hurt them so badly that they would do these things; that they would say things about me or someone close to me? What has hurt them so badly that they would live like this? Break my heart for the hurting people in my life, even if those people have hurt me or someone close to me.
Please teach me this compassion and forgiveness, that I might speak with Jesus the prayer, 'Abba, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.'
- St. PC of the Hurtful
7:15-20 - So a false teacher could NOT produce fruit...yet we like to attack people who are doing great ministry leading people to Jesus and discipleship, and we call them false prophets
7:24-27 - Storms come to ALL of us, but the question is, "What is your foundation?" And its good to answer that question before the storm comes.
CHAPTER 8 8:4 - Only a priest could determine a person's reintegration into the religious community. Jesus knew that and wanted this man to be reintegrated
8:20 - Homeless Jesus! Where is THAT Christmas card? Where is THAT Christian imagery?
8:23 - The disciples followed him. What kept any members of the crowd from following him? What kept a mass of people from trying to be one of those on the boat with Jesus whom they were all following and listening intently to?
8:29 - I'm always stricken by the fact demons know Jesus so well! I think, possibly, demons KNOW Jesus better than a lot of Christians.
CHAPTER 9 9:2 - Amazing that FAITH is trusting hope in what we cannot SEE and yet Jesus can SEE our FAITH and perceive our thoughts (9:4)
9:4 - Why do you THINK evil in your HEARTS? - I wonder why we've so easily disconnected our brains from our hearts
9:11 - "Why does your teacher eat with...sinners?" I wish people would ask that about me, but alas, I'm often too afraid to eat there. I'm a pastor, for cryin' out loud! Think of the implications!
9:14-15 - Jesus' ministry provides what fasting seeks: communion with God's presence, forgiveness, salvation, guidance
9:18-26 - FAITH says, "If God...then it WILL happen." I am not so sure I have much faith in light of todays reading.
9:35-38 - It seems if it's not one thing its the next for Jesus in these few verses and these three chapters. Jesus is just going, going, going. Sometimes even while he's talking, someone comes to him in need. He is teaching, proclaiming, curing, and healing. He is curing EVERY disease and EVERY sickness.
When it would seem burnout is impending, you read verse 36.
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them BECAUSE they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
Basically he realizes the outrageous amount of hurt, disease and NEED in the human condition.
Then verse 37-38
"The harvest is plentiful" = there are A LOT of hurting people everywhere...always
"Therefore ask the Lord to send laborers" = ASK the Lord in faith and prayer that he would send people to serve the harassed, helpless, and hurting
BEWARE: Don't think you can pray for laborers in order to skirt your responsibility to BE a laborer