Creative Compassion: Loving Heartily in a Hurting World
- Monday, February 03, 2003
Over half a century ago, the Chicago Daily News reported a fascinating story under the title, "Love Working Miracles for Mentally Ill in Kansas." The article centered on the amazing success rate of the Topeka State Hospital in returning eight of every ten new mentally ill patients to useful and productive lives outside the facility. Observers throughout the country wanted to know, "What's their secret?" In fact, the hospital's success did not come from electroshock therapy, surgery, group counseling, drugs, or any of the conventional treatments for mental disorders. These played a part, but the real secret was contained in a single word: love.
Dr. Karl Menninger of the famed brother/psychiatrist team explained, "The doctor doesn't cure by any specific treatment. You cure by atmosphere, by attitude, by sympathetic understanding on the part of everyone in the hospital." He went on to say, "By our words and deeds at the hospital, we must gently persuade them that society is worth coming back to. There is none of the professional-staff jealousy that poisons so many institutions. Everyone is on the team. The hospital attendants' opinion is as readily considered as a nurse's or social worker's."1
It's easy to talk about love or even to say loving words; but as Dr. Menninger discovered, what people really need is to see love in action. Love in action boosts people to greater heights of development and growth than words or good intentions alone. Can you imagine what would happen if positive women everywhere began putting the power of Christ's love into action on a daily basis? We'd make a lasting and positive difference in this world!
What Love Looks Like
What does real love in action look like? Jesus gave us the perfect picture in his story of the Good Samaritan. A legal expert had just questioned Jesus about the great commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself." "Who is my neighbor?" the expert wanted to know. Jesus responded immediately with this profound illustration:
"A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
"By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
"Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. 'If his bill runs higher than that,' he said, 'I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.'" (Luke 10:30-35 nlt)
Truly this Samaritan man showed love in action. The fact that the Jewish people despised the Samaritan people makes the story even more profound. True love crosses over the lines of racism or stereotyping. It stretches beyond the convenient or the comfortable.
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