On Sundays at church we are spending the entire 2015 going through the book of Mark. This past Sunday we went through Mark 1:29-45. For small groups we usually dive deeper into the passage or topic of the sermon and discuss a lot of it. I decided I wanted to focus specifically on compassion and love so I began reading some more articles, watching some videos, etc… to get something together for group. Unfortunately we had to cancel group tonight, so I decided to put my notes together and create a blog about it.
In Matthew 25 we read about the day that all of us will stand before Jesus. Take a minute to read verses 31-46.
The Final Judgment
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Every day we have an opportunity to love Jesus by loving others. Are we taking advantage of this reality? We don’t like this fact. We like life to be more predictable. I heard an excellent paraphrase of these verses from Richard Stearns:
“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.” Richard Stearns
That’s pretty convicting to us. I know it certainly is for me.
Throughout the day we have several opportunities to love Jesus but we are often more focused on ourselves. We live in the moment of our own self pleasure. But when we love others, the unloved, unnoticed, so called unworthy, that’s when we are showing the love of Christ.
Here is where compassion and love comes in to play. Many of you might describe yourself as compassionate. It is certainly an amazing quality to have. Jesus was extremely compassionate. However I want to pose two questions. First- is it an option to be compassionate? Second- Are you really compassionate or simply desiring to be compassionate? There is a BIG difference between the two.
We have to be careful with confusing our good intentions or desires with loving people. Sometimes we feel compassionate for someone who’s hurting, or we feel loving feelings towards orphans in Africa, BUT that’s different than actually being compassionate. It is so much more than a feeling.
A lot of the times I think because I feel a certain way I am a certain way. I feel devastated when I see a homeless man asking for food, with a look of hopelessness in his eyes. That doesn’t make me compassionate. Compassion is a word that is action. It’s a word that, if you look in scriptures, in the gospels often times it attaches to the word “and”. Jesus had compassion and…He met a specific need. Jesus didn’t just feel compassion for someone, He did something.
So our compassion should have an “and” with it. So don’t confuse feeling compassion with being compassionate. Don’t think you are compassionate when actually you are staying and thinking about it. God has called us to take action, and to show love to the least of these.
As a Church (big C) can you imagine the impact we would have in our community, nationally, internationally, if we all just decided that we are going to love people the way that Jesus loves people?
When Jesus walked this Earth He was constantly moving from one place to another. He was constantly on the go. So much of the gospels are about Jesus reaching out to people that He met simply from going from one place to another.
As a Christian God hasn’t simply called others to go, He has called you to go. He has called me to go. Now you may not be able to meet people in Haiti, or Indian, or Nepal, but every day we have opportunities as we go- to show the love of Christ. Think of all the places you go every single day. Those are all opportunities to be compassionate and show the love of Jesus.
It could be in a local ministry, or it could be in your own context. When you are going to McDonalds you could be intentional to show the love of Christ to the person who takes your order, or maybe the cashier at a grocery store, it could be at your kids sports game that you are intentional at showing the love of Christ to the person you are sitting next too. The point is this should be a part of who you are. As we are going places we take opportunities to share the love of Christ to people.
It could be a waitress at a restaurant that is hurting deeply, that is deeply depressed and doesn’t know if she wants to even wake up in the morning. And all she wants is for someone to notice her pain. Show her love, compassion, and care. As a believer we have the gospel that can transform her life.
The Great Commission
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If you are honest, most of us would say we don’t want to go. I am using the word “go” basically in a way that represents reaching people with Jesus anywhere you go. We want to stay because staying is comfortable, predictable, and safe. Going can be uncomfortable, unpredictable, and risky and we don’t like those things. We want a comfortable, safe, secure life. I heard it described this way before- when Jesus gave us the great commission and told us to go- we don’t call that the great suggestion, or the great recommendation. It is a command for all believers.
A common question people wonder is, “What is God’s will for my life?” If you have ever wondered what His will is, that’s His will. That you go and share His love and in doing so present to them the only thing in life that can offer lasting satisfaction. It is not His will for you to love a safe, ordinary, mundane life; it’s not His will that you show up at your job every day watching the clock tick away the minutes. It’s not His will you give video-games your main attention, or that the highlight of your week is getting a package in the mail. It’s not Gods will that you retire rich and take it easy the rest of your life.
Living a comfortable, predictable, self-centered life is not Gods will.
It is Gods will that we go. And as we go we become his hands and his feet showing his love to people along the way.
Now don’t read this and assume I feel I have it all together. I don’t. I know I am a really flawed man. Yes, you can quote me on that. As much as I know God has changed me over the past two years, I know I still have a long way to go. I can keep growing and learning every day. I know I need to be a more compassionate person of action. I know I have opportunities that get wasted probably every day.
There is a beautiful moment in a prayer Jesus prays in John 17. Jesus prays believers to be made one, to have unity. All of us, working together, need to show the compassion and love of Christ. Jesus wants us unified. We don’t have to be alone, we can help one another, brainstorm, come up with ideas together, work together to get as many people as we can to fall in love with Jesus.