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Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesus Is Compassionate

Jesus lived as a human (John 1:14).  As such, He experienced emotions.  He displayed these emotions frequently.  Just like us!!  We are emotional beings.  Love is the basis of our faith.  Love.  Love is an extreme emotion, and when we open ourselves up to one extreme, the opposite (anger and grief, for example) is also possible.  Not only did Jesus experience these same extreme emotions as us, but He showed us the proper way to handle them.  With that, I am spending a few weeks focusing on the human emotions of Christ and how they relate to us.

Compassion
Judah Smith: Jesus loves us right now, just as we are.  He isn’t standing aloof, yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of him.  He is wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken, rescuing the lost, and healing the sick.

Compassion is having a deep sympathy for someone in need and is usually tied with a strong desire to help that person.  It is also the emotion most frequently tied to Jesus, regardless of what else was going on in His life.

When Christ was angry, He managed to provide a wonderful example of compassion.  In the beginning of Mark 3, a man with a shriveled hand was being ignored by the Pharisees.  See…it was the Sabbath, so naturally that meant the Pharisees ignored the man who needed help.  Obviously this irritated Jesus, so He healed the man’s hand.  Christ’s message was simple: When someone is in need and we have the ability to help, we should do so.  We can respond in anger, but more often what is needed is compassion (Mark 15:31).

God does this for us every day.  He could be angry…you think He looks down on this earth and likes what He sees?  It’s a world full of sin…that’s not what He intended.  God hates sin.  He loves us, but He hates our sin.  He’s angry with it.  Frustrated with it.  He’s looking down saying, “I’ve given you all the answers!!  It’s an open-Book test!!”  Yet we insist on taking the test solo.  Frustrating.  It’s His compassion, however, that saves us (Lamentations 3:22).  Are you that quick to show compassion to those who have wronged you?

Even in His grief, Christ displayed compassion.  In Matthew 14, Jesus was hurting because John the Baptist had just been killed.  In His suffering, He withdrew for some private grieving, then showed compassion by healing and feeding a large crowd.  See…“his compassion for the people would always return him to his responsibility to care for their welfare.  He did not shut down.  He sacrificed his ‘need’ for being alone to serve others.  Even in the midst of his personal grief, he made life easier for the people near him.

Mark Driscoll: Unlike any other false god offered by any other religion, Jesus did not sit back in his heavenly ease and give us mere counsel for our suffering from a safe distance.  Instead, he entered into human history to identify with us.  He was tempted.  He was rejected by his family.  He was poor and homeless.  He was abandoned by his friends.  He was betrayed by his disciple.  He was falsely accused by his enemies.  He was falsely tried and condemned.  He was beaten beyond recognition.  He bled, suffered, and died in shame.

What other god in any other religion claims to have done this for us?  God loves us so much that He came down in human form so He could feel what we feel.  He experienced all range of emotions, including anger and grief—yet still managed to show us how to provide love and compassion to the world around us through it all.

In compassion, your suffering becomes my suffering (Luke 7:13).  Compassion goes further than sympathy or commiseration or pity.  It is more than a mere desire to help; it creates a determination, a decision to actually help, if only in a small wayThe difference between sympathy and compassion is that the one who sympathizes sees and feels, but does nothing.  The one who has compassion sees, feels, and then does something about the need.

In compassion, we do for those in need what they cannot do for themselves.

Perhaps the most common story of compassion shared in church comes to us in Mark 2:3-12.  Jesus came to town.  There was a paralyzed man whose friends realized that the only hope he had was Jesus.  Did they simply pray for their friend?  No.  They tried to get him to Jesus.  They acted.  When they found that the place was packed, they made an opening in the roof (verse 4).  They literally cut a hole in the roof in order to lower him into the room.  These guys were determined.  One way or another, their friend was scoring some face-time with Jesus.  This caused Jesus to be so moved by their faith in Him and compassion for their friend that He first forgave the man’s sins (the ultimate healing), then told him to get up and walk.

We need to be like the paralytic man’s friends.  Normally, we turn to God for His compassion when we have done something wrong or when we are hurting, yet find it so easy not to do the same for others.  We are so consumed with our lives…our feelings.  This is my anger.  This is my grief.  Where is your compassion?

Funny how that’s the one emotion we don’t selfishly hoard.

Know what some antonyms of compassion are?  Indifference.  Heartlessness.  Cruelty.  Hatred.  Do these words sound like the heart of a Christian?  One who follows Christ?  If you ask me, these words sound like the kinds of action that brought out Christ’s anger.  We are to be compassionate.  It is not a nice thing to do—it is a command.  Be compassionate.  It is not a state of mind.  It is not pity.  It is action.

How?

“We have to understand something about God: he isn’t intimidated by sin the way we are…he looks past (our) sin and just sees (us)” – Smith.  We know the “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone” story from John 8, but have we really paused to think about the scenario?  Those religious nuts didn’t know that woman at all—only her sin—yet they were so eager to kill this stranger.  The next time you see someone doing something that you don’t approve of, before you jump straight to judgmental accusations, stop and think.  What would Christ prefer you to do: Privately judge their actions or get to know them and help introduce Jesus into their lives?  Let’s start seeing people and not their sins (Matthew 9:36-38).  Let’s see them the way Christ sees them.  The way He sees us.

When life dumps its garbage on us, Jesus doesn’t see the filth.  He sees us, clean and showered.  The misperception, however, is that Christ provides us with that shower.  The reality is that Christ is the shower.  Jesus is compassionate.  Compassion is more than an emotion, it’s an action.  Jesus frequently showed compassion by healing those that society (and even religious leaders) deemed unclean and had turned their backs on—refusing to help.  Why?  Because He loved them.  Because He loves us.

And He wants us to do the same.

Love is the foundation for compassion, and “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).  It’s time to get our hands dirty.  Wade waist-deep into the muck of life.  Weep with the broken.  Rescue the lost.  Direct them to the most beautiful shower they’ve ever experienced.

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