INCONVENIENT COMPASSION

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Compassion

I hear a lot of chatter about benevolence and compassionate ministry.  People are puzzled about what it looks like. How do we do it like Jesus did? Questions are asked about how the person in need came to their needy situation.  Some would say they simply need to get ahold of Jesus and their life would go well. Some would say it is our job to alleviate their suffering.  While both may have elements of truth, they both fall short of the Jesus model. Over the years of studying service and shepherding ministry, I have noticed one consistent theme-  Inconvenience.

Consider this scripture passage:

While he [Jesus] was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.  Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.  When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.  After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region.   ~Matthew 9:18-26

I had long wondered why this little story of the woman bleeding was in the middle of this story of the ruler’s daughter dying.  Was it a mistake? A scribes error?  After really thinking about it and studying writers who have gone before us, I think it is a purposeful lesson in compassion.  It gives us a model for how we are to live-willing to be inconvenienced by the needs of others around us.

I am not saying we shouldn’t have healthy boundaries. I am saying this thing we call being a ‘Christian’ needs to be through an understanding that we live not for ourselves but for others.  Jesus was willing to stop for this woman in spite of being busy, on a very important mission for the ruler.  He stopped not only because he was touched (Luke gives more detail and says he felt virtue leaving him) but for the sake of this poor lady who was an outcast for 12 years. Who had no value to society. I have no doubt she questioned her very existence as a human when she was deemed unclean and had nothing to contribute to her community or even her family!

Jesus stops. He speaks to her.  He makes sure she knows she has had his attention, his value, his healing.  He calls her “daughter,” a very intimate and personal greeting.  She feels important enough to have his attention and touch. She is forever changed by the encounter.

I John 3:16-18 teaches us our faith is infused by compassion.  It is a part of our DNA as a redeemed community.  If Jesus was inconvenienced for us, How can we do any less?  Do not say, “This is not my gift. This is out of my comfort zone.” Do you think the torture and crucifiction of Jesus wasn’t inconvenient or uncomfortable?  Scripture says it plainly. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”  Pity is that gut level reaction to something we percieve.  If you are not feeling that, you have allowed your spirit to be calloused and closed to the movement of the Holy Spirit!  BEWARE!  That is a dangerous place to live.

Compassion is inconvenient.  It moves us.  It causes us to act.  Can we do any less when Jesus did just that for us?  Take some time this day to notice someone.  Spend yourself in giving kind words that add value to someone’s life.  Allow moments of physical interaction.  Remember what God has done in your own life and extend the same to others.

~continuing the conversation

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