Are you living in a bubble? Do all your friends think the same, look the same and act the same? It’s so easy to find ourselves only surrounded by people like us. Its human nature, really, to cling to the people who are like you. But the truth is that this is not how Jesus lived His life. Not at all! Jesus loved people so well that the religious leaders began to see him as a drunkard and sinner! Will you go that far outside of your box?
Let me begin with the comments of a drug dealer to a minister. . . . ‘Rev, when a kid gets up in the morning and heads off to school, I am there. When he comes homes from school, I am there. When he comes out to play, I’m there. . . . They know where I am, Rev. Where are you?’”
“Rev, where are you?” I’m a Rev. That question is for me. It’s for all of us to claim to be followers of Jesus.
Evil is all around us. Where is the church of Jesus? We need a new birth of compassion.
Compassion means to suffer with another person. The word has a strong personal element. To have compassion means more than just feeling sorry for somebody. It means to get down where they are in their need and to suffer with them in their pain.
Painful sympathy. I like that.
Compassion is more than just a feeling. It’s not just an emotion. Real compassion means that you see the problem, you are moved by the need, you go to where the problem is, and you get your hands dirty.
We see this in many places in the life of Christ.
Matthew 14:14 tells us that Jesus had compassion on the great crowd following him so he healed the sick and then fed the 5000.
When Jesus saw two blind men, He was filled with compassion and healed them on the spot.
“A leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”
Here is the most shocking part of that last example: Jesus touched a leper!
Jesus touched a leper!
In doing that, he broke all the customs and rules of that day. According to the Old Testament, if you had leprosy, you were unclean. People were so scared of lepers that they made them live in a colony away from the rest of society so they would not contaminate anyone else. But when Jesus saw the man with leprosy, he was so moved that he reached out and touched him.
Please understand something. For Jesus, compassion was not a feeling; it was a commitment to get involved with hurting people. Real compassion moves from feeling to action. Real compassion doesn’t give a damn about customs and what people think.
We are used to thinking of Jesus as the Son of God, and so he was. But, Acts 10:38 is a one-sentence summary of Jesus’ ministry:
“He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”
How’s that for the earthly life of Christ? "He went about doing good.” Short, concise, right to the point.
We need a new birth of compassion.
Look around you
Those needing compassion are all around you. They live on your street, you go to school with them, you shop at the same stores, eat at the same restaurants, you drive the same streets they do, you work with them.
Don’t let the darkness overwhelm you. Just light a candle and let it shine.
No matter who you are or how much you care or how hard you work or how much you pray, you can’t save them all.
You can’t rescue every baby.
You can’t save every marriage.
You can’t help every homeless person.
But you can light a candle in the darkness. Even if you are Mother Teresa, you can’t rescue every hurting child in Calcutta. It just can’t be done. But that is no reason not to help those whom God puts in your path.
You can light a candle in the darkness. No one can do it all, and no one is being asked to do it all. But we can all do something.
Again, compassion is something you do. If you want your neighborhood to be changed, get involved. Your neighborhood could be changed, but you must do it the hard way, the slow way, the quiet way, the unseen, difficult way. But in God’s economy, that’s the only way it works.
We need to be radically personal.
A couple just adopted a crack baby. They were already committed to community involvement, but they felt called to do more. He said that when the baby was brought home, her cry was like a cat’s meow. But now she is healthy, bouncy and happy. When asked how they did it, he just smiles and says, “We loved the crack right out of that baby." It can be done. It will be time-consuming and expensive, but it can be done.
We need to begin now
Many of us would like to help, but we don’t know where to begin. There are people in your life who need the help only you can give. Some of them need a word of encouragement, and you are the only one who can give them that word. Some of them are staggering beneath a heavy load, and you are the only one who can lift that from their shoulders. Some of them are about to give up, and you are the only one who can keep them in the race. Some of them have been hit with an incredible string of troubles, and you are the only one who can help them keep going.
Those people are all around us. Our only problem is that we don’t see them. Pray that God will give you compassionate eyes. Those are eyes that see the real needs of the people you meet. That’s a prayer God will answer, for there are folks all around you who are just barely making it. They are out there waiting for someone to give them help. God has helped and blessed us so that we might take what we have received and share it with those who desperately need it.
So, are you ready to burst the bubble you’re living in? I want to encourage you to ask God for His eyes to see people the way He does; loving them simply because they’re made in His image. Regardless of whether we like them, are afraid of them, or are offended by them.