Holy Asides
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February 2, 2015, 11:00 AM

Our most important role as the Church: Compassion


It has been very hard to write a reflection on this past month’s spiritual discipline: compassion. This is not because of the difficulty in describing the ways in which I have received or provided compassion throughout the past month. Rather, it’s the insight that I have received that compassion may just be the single most important element to being a healthy Christian community.  Not Bible Study.  Or incredible Sunday Worship, with great preaching. Not a strategic vision plan and a healthy budget. Not even a powerful prayer and pastoral care ministry. Having compassion for one another, in the church and in the world, might be the way that we most fully live into the Christian life. 

 

This is largely due to the fact that compassion and competition cannot coexist. Jesus demonstrated compassion through emptying himself and becoming a servant. Never did Jesus worry about being in competition with us, because there is no comparison between us and God. Jesus demonstrated a new way of living in relationship with God and each other. He did not come to this world to pull us out of slavery, rather he became a slave with us. In everything Jesus did, he met people where they were. If they were hungry, he fed them. If they were sick, he healed them. But his healing and feeding were never about satisfying physical needs or improving someone’s station in life, but about revealing the Kingdom of God. Jesus said to everyone he encountered, “I love you as you are.” Not, “I will love you when you become more spiritually aware, or get a job, or pray better.” 

 

How does this translate to us? Our churches? Our communities?  We are called to love people where they are, to minister to people in need, not because we expect to rescue them from themselves and bring them up to “our level”, but because they are broken and in desire of receiving God’s compassion through us. We are called to see, truly, that we are all walking the same path. We might have different struggles, but none of us is perfect, and each of us is in need of God’s compassion. Which then leads to embracing that our unique spiritual gifts all benefit the body, and one is not greater than the other. We are not in competition with each other, but together striving to bring God’s love and compassion to a hurting and broken world. 

 

It’s this aspect of compassion that I believe people are desperately searching for. No longer are people just wanting the correct answers to who God is. Or what the church is. Or what are the proper and appropriate behaviors a Christian should have. The people in this world long for a God who will love them for who they are. They long for a community who will embrace them in their brokenness and welcome them as brothers and sisters. They long for an opportunity to share their gifts and feel that they are contributing to the body. This all begins with compassion. For it is in compassion that we can point beyond ourselves to the glory of the living God and the new life found through Jesus Christ.


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