This is a publication from the desk of Pastor Gene Yotka depicting his and other people’s observations of God’s Presence in and around our Epworth UMC community and beyond.
Hi Everyone, I pray blessings upon you, that you are experiencing the presence of God in every moment of your days. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak in your heart.
Staying with our recent topic of spiritual dispositions begun two weeks ago with humility and then last week with hospitality, this week I would like to begin to consider the importance of compassion in the life of those who follow Christ. Compassion at its root means to be willing to be with the pain of others with a heart that is willing to sacrifice our own comforts, needs and status for the sake of the other. Jesus was compassionate.*
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. NRS Matthew 9:36
When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. NRS Matthew 14:14
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way." NRS Matthew 15:32
Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him. NRS Matthew 20:34
Four things jump out with regard to the compassion we see in Jesus. 1) Jesus saw. Jesus was aware of the pain and suffering around Him. 2) Jesus was inclusive of all. Jesus does not discriminate in His observation and feeling of compassion. Jesus showed us compassion in community 3) Jesus did something. He took action. And 4) Jesus was hands on, literally touching the eyes of the blind men.
For Jesus Christ compassion was not part of God’s ministry, but was the inner movement of love become manifest in outward actions. Thus, Christ- like compassion is in the DNA of the Christian church and is evident in Christ following communities. It is not enough to have a few compassionate people in our churches. Our church communities must be compassionate at their core. This means demonstrating compassion without discrimination within both the church community itself and the community at large. We must be aware of the pain and hurt around us and we must take hands on action in response to these pains and hurts. Furthermore, if it is going to be true Christ-like compassion, we will see every opportunity to be compassionate as a gift from God.
We might ask “what about those who are difficult, or rub us wrong, or those whom we have deemed as underserving?” This is where compassion becomes a powerful act of spiritual formation, for us. Compassion exercised in difficult situations to those we would rather not associate brings us into direct contact with our “saint makers.” Saint-makers are those God uses to help us grow in holiness. I would rather live alone we might say and not be bothered by the crowds. I will focus on a few whom I see as deserving, maybe, but all in all I would rather not see the pain and suffering and would rather say “what can I do about it.” Spiritual isolation is the antithesis of Christ-like compassion. Basil the Great, speaks from a place of wisdom when he said, with regard to being alone, thus avoiding the discomfort, pain and suffering of others, as well as the pain and suffering others may cause us, when he wrote.
“If you live alone, whose feet shall you wash?”
Basil the Great (330-379AD)
*Also consider Luke 17:13; 15:20; Phil 1:8; 2:1; Col. 3:12