Monday, October 3

compassion beyond measure

The title of the post today - was the title of Dave's sermon this morning at Eastview.  The sermon was about showing compassion.  Dave said that we often feel uncomfortable when we talk about showing compassion, and that there "is more at stake, for us living compassionate lives, than we know"

The Scripture passage was from Acts 3 where Peter and John are on their way to the temple and encounter a beggar who is lame.  They didn't have silver or gold, and told him such but what they gave him was way better.  They look at the lame man, and in the name of Jesus - tell him to get up and walk!  And - he does!!  And goes away walking, leaping and praising God!!

Dave said "the church gathers and shows compassion in ways that change people's lives.  Compassion is at the heart"

BUT that being said - why don't we show compassion more?  Well - because it is hard.  Because it is risky.  Sometimes we may find ourselves "judging" who needs compassion and who doesn't!! When we look into the Word of God, we see that Jesus himself, went to the fringes of society... he ate with tax collectors, and prostitutes!  (he lived a risky life - he was also ridicules for sitting with "sinners")
There was so much more to the sermon, but at the end, Dave encouraged us - that we would grow compassionate hearts! That we would walk around every day, looking with Jesus eyes!

I have often prayed exactly this before - that God would help me see through the eyes of Jesus.  I have experienced this profoundly a couple times, and it left me a weepy mess.  Two times that stand out in my memory are once when we were with a team in the inner city of Toronto (also known as the "tenderloin" area, as it was where prostitution was rampant, along with streets full of drag queens, and young male prostitutes.  We were there late at night - and were there with a mission oriented purpose.  All of a sudden, I felt this intensity in my being, and felt like the lens had come off my eyes, and I wept.  I believe God helped me feel the compassion that Jesus felt for the broken among us.

The other time that stands in my memory, focuses on my street friend Barry.  Barry, who often would come in so dirty, and so smelly from street life.  Barry who would ask the ushers if they could get "Joy" and they would come and get me - sometimes out of the service - to help him out.  Barry who would croon Amazing Grace to me, and recite scripture to me.  (Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.  This was one scripture he recited one day.  However one of the coldest days of the year, I sat with Barry as he sipped a hot coffee and tried to warm up.  He was high again.  Not sure if it was the Listerine he had drank, or sniff ... but he was high.  The holy spirit kept nudging me - prompting me to ask Barry "Barry, do you want me to pray with you?" To which he replied "Yes" and immediately bowed his head.  It was like he immediately sobered up.  I prayed.  Again there was this stirring in my heart, and my eyes were opened again, and I felt this compassion ... only Jesus could do that.  After we were done, he got up and said good-bye and went into the cold... and I wept.

Compassion is risky.  Sometimes it costs us ... a few dollars to the person begging around the corner of the McDonald's drive through (where management could not see him). ... or a kind word to the woman who just told you about the journey since her son was murdered a couple years ago ... or the person who is just hungry, and you give your fresh coffee and donut to.  Perhaps it is more - like donating money to the food bank, or to places like Mennonite Central Committee for their response to the famine... or brand new coats donated to Koats for Kids campaign.

Imagine what would happen if the "church" responded with compassion ... with more compassion.  I am talking about the "church" as each of us who claim Jesus as Lord of our lives!  Imagine if we reached out - in his name.  If we gave a cup of water to "the least of these."
If our hearts great with compassion that looked the way Jesus told us.  Imagine!  Compassion beyond measure!

May that be my prayer daily!
To see others through the eyes of Jesus and to respond with love and compassion!

No comments: