Lately, I’ve been considering how desperately our world needs the Christian community to embody compassion.
In the past few weeks, I’ve read countless articles that have a spirit of condemnation and judgment. The majority of these articles have focused on “those people”. And, I’ve noticed that “those people” tend to represent all those who do not act, speak, and believe exactly like the author.
These articles tend to have an “I’m right and you are wrong” arrogance. These articles are conservatives vs. liberals…liberals vs. fundamentalists…and so on. And, let’s be honest…these labels are pretty tired, worn out, and insufficient.
Then, if someone dares to question the author’s position, all hell breaks loose and the questioner is labeled a heretic.
In the midst of this, I have been convinced that people really enjoy telling others that they are going to hell. I get the feeling that some find a great deal of satisfaction in lashing out eternal damnation to certain individuals and groups.
Of course, grace is extended. However, it tends to be on the terms of the one in authority. So, grace is extended like this…”You can be saved from the eternal fires of hell (that tends to be the definition of hell, too…not just eternal separation from God…but a lake of fire where people are burning) if you will simply admit the errors of your ways, believe exactly as I do, and never ask any questions…never!”
Now, I need to be careful because, at times, I can come down too harshly on those I disagree with. I can be extremely pious and egotistical.
I am not free from being judgmental…condemning…self-righteous. I make snap judgments each and every day. So, I’m just as guilty.
But, I’ve come to believe that our fervor for judgment often trumps our practice of compassion, mercy, grace, patience, gentleness, and kindness. Too often, we miss the point. In our great debates, often over trivial issues, we tend to forget the call to love one another…to love our enemies…to bless, not curse.
Jesus was fairly clear on the subject. In John 3:17 he says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
And, for some reason, when I read this passage, I get the feeling that Jesus never intended those who follow Him to take on a practice of “scaring the hell out of people”.
Instead, I get the feeling that He desires that His followers would love others into His Kingdom.
When Jesus saw the hurt, the hungry, the poor, the confused, the “least of these”, He was filled with compassion. Just read the Gospels and see how often Jesus had feelings of compassion fill His being.
And, today, our world is in desperate need for Christians to be filled with compassion…followed by action.
When Jesus was filled with compassion…it motivated action. Feeding the hungry. Healing the sick. Raising the dead. Sharing his life and love with the outcast.
I believe that a Christian community filled with compassion and genuine love for its neighbors could transform the world.
Rather than dismissing those we disagree with, how can we extend compassion?
Rather than condemning those we disagree with, how can we show them love, grace, and mercy?
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. ~ Colossians 3:12-14