“When He saw the crowds He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14
“Jesus called His disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people…” Matthew 15:32
“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes…” Matthew 20:34
“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” Mark 1:41
Have you ever noticed how much compassion Jesus had? And who exactly did He have compassion for? The sick, the hurting, the poor, the “lowly” things of this earth. Jesus didn’t come to the world to identify with the rich, those who have it all together. He entered the world as a lowly, poor pauper. One of those people. Born in a stable. A king?
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said, “whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”
I’m reading a book called The Red Letters ~ Living a Life that Bleeds by Tom Davis. And quite honestly, I can hardly get through it. Not because it is bad writing or not not interesting enough. But because about a year ago (maybe even more time than that, I’m having a hard time pinpointing when I started having these thoughts and feelings) God began working in my heart in a new way. The only way I can sum up my feelings are to say that I have become uncomfortable with being comfortable. And let’s face it, we are pretty darn comfortable here in America.
This book challenges us as believers…believers in Jesus…to ask ourselves if we are truly living out the words Jesus Himself gave to us…you know, the “red letters?”
“What if all Christ-followers lived the Red Letter words in the Bible – Jesus’ words? what if we offered the hungry something to eat, gave one of our many coats to someone who was cold, and truly loved all neighbors as ourselves? How radically different would our lives be? How different would our world be if Christians were really living as little Christs?” (from The Red Letter.)
I am going to risk offending someone that is reading by sharing this…but one of the things I struggle with the most is our church. And not just the one church I attend…but the american “church” I guess to take it further.
Yes, we have our pretty programs where we bring in a measly shoebox filled with maybe $5 worth of stuff to send to a poor child once a year. (or maybe we even do 2-3 boxes! Yay for me!) We take our old, worn-out clothing to the local ministry drop-off place. We give money to the church. Sometimes we even give money to other organizations, organizations that do wonderful things, don’t get me wrong. Maybe we even give an hour or two of our week each week to teach a lesson or keep the nursery.
Then, we walk out the church doors and get back to “life” as we know it. Busy schedules, carpool rides, going to ballet, fixing dinner, paying the bills, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, schooling the kids (or taking them to school) and the list goes on. And on. And on.
We paid our tithe, though! We are good Christians!
I struggle with the wealth of our churches. I mean it keeps me awake at night. I say this not to brag that I am some super-spiritual person. I’m not. I say this to ask you to pray for me. I can easily become critical when I dwell on the negative things! Pray that I will have God’s perspective…I want that so badly! I want His vision. Because quite honestly, I am a little (ok maybe alot) disheartened by the thousands of dollars our church body is spending just to advertise for our building fund. Now, don’t get me wrong, if we need a new sanctuary (big if, there) that really is not the point I am disheartened by. What bothers me is that they send us a new fancy folder, bumper sticker, pens, key chains in the mail…this week I walked into the church and now they have t-shirts —- all for the building program! I am too scared to look at the budget and see how much money we have spent just trying to raise money for a building.
See what I mean, I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like the negative and critical thoughts. But I am laying them all out there for you…honestly, I’d love to hear the perspective of other believers.
Given my personality, I know that I have a tendency to dwell on the negative. I have learned that about myself. And believe me when I say that I see a LOT of good things that my church is doing! truly! But I can’t get past all the money stuff. I can’t get past the child across the world that is dying without a .20 medication that he doesn’t have. And we need an 18 million dollar sanctuary.
I struggle with the orphans all over the world, our country included. I struggle with those who can’t feed their children, while I buy an ice cream treat on the way home from Sonic. I struggle with those who don’t have a roof over my head while I’m busy thinking about my friends with bigger and more beautiful homes. I struggle with not wanting to just sell my house and move across the world to live where I feel like I can actually do something. I know there are so many acts of service I can be doing right here. I just feel so helpless. I feel so burdened. I feel so rich.
I hope you hear my heart in this. I’m just struggling. I’m not trying to be critical. I’m just trying to hear God’s voice. I am begging that He would tell me what He is asking of me. I’m begging for His vision for my life. I’m wondering why He is giving me these burdens. What He is trying to tell me. What He wants from me. I want to be filled with that compassion that He has for me. I want to be filled with that compassion that He has for those around the world who don’t have anything. I want to be filled with Him and His love for the world around me.
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:8