How are You Doing with Compassion?
- Jordan Standridge TheCripplegate.com
- 2017 4 May
Have you ever gone a week without showering? How about begged someone for money so you could buy food? Have you ever slept on the street?
I have and let me tell you it’s not very fun.
My freshman year at the Master’s university I got to participate in outreach week. The whole school took a week off and the students were split up into teams that would go and serve churches around Los Angeles and even in other states for an entire week. I told the man in charge to sign me up wherever he wanted and so he assigned me to a church in the heart of Los Angeles.
What I didn’t know was that this church liked to do things differently. Located not too far from Skid Row, the church had a thriving homeless ministry and their goal was to help us understand what it was like to be homeless, in their minds it took us being homeless to truly have compassion for homeless people. As soon as we arrived at the house we were given 7 dollars in monopoly money and we were also given a menu to let us know what each item cost. A shower was 7 dollars. One small meal was 5 dollars and I forget the rest but you get the point.
For a week, we slept outside in a parking lot (across the street from a police station so don’t worry) we had one meal a day, we had our suitcases taken away so we only could use the clothes we showed up in and never took a shower. We also had to go around one afternoon and ask people for money. It was a pretty remarkable experience that I will never forget and it absolutely worked as my heart for the homeless grew exponentially as the week went on.
Sometimes we forget how terrible the situation is for all who don’t know Christ. Perhaps we may see them thrive financially, physically and relationally and we may have a hard time feeling sorry for them. We must remember that spiritually speaking they are worse off than any beggar who has ever walked this earth. We tend to forget that Spiritually speaking they are homeless and headed towards an eternity of misery and so they become the enemy and instead of evangelizing them we become embittered against them. But there are so many things that we are forgetting when this happens.
In Luke 9:51-56 we get a picture of the mercy of Christ. This mercy is remarkable and it exposes man’s depravity and the disciple’s judgmental attitude. Ultimately it teaches us the importance of maintaining compassion in our hearts as we deal with unbelievers and work to win them to Christ.
First, this passage teaches us that Jesus was determined to have compassion.
51 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem;
Jesus is way better than us in every single conceivable way, and what’s fascinating is despite that he was humble, incredibly patient and incredibly merciful and compassionate. And mercy is what made him willing to look towards Jerusalem despite what awaited Him there.
The disciples thought that he was headed towards Jerusalem to conquer the Romans, in fact like silly politicians conniving their way to a preferred position in a new president’s transition team, the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest, perhaps with their eyes set on a better position once Jesus takes the throne in Jerusalem. But Jesus’ eyes were set on Jerusalem for the purpose of dying on the cross to save them from their sin.
This determination is astounding. He wouldn’t let anyone talk him out of it. He wouldn’t let anything slow him down, and no sin and no rejection would deter him from mercifully dying for his bride.
Second, we learn that man is determined to reject Christ’s compassion.
52 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.
Perhaps as equally determined as Christ, the world is set on rejecting the Word in exchange for the World. In this passage, it is the Samaritans who refuse to bow the knee to their Creator. Perhaps they might have even entertained the idea of following Jesus, he had, after all, saved the woman at the well (John 4), who then became an evangelist throughout Samaria upon her conversion. But the fact that he was headed towards Jerusalem was too much for them to bear. Their hate for the Jews was too strong for them to be willing to make Jesus their Lord. It’s almost as if they are saying, “I don’t care if you are God Himself! We will not worship anyone who has his eyes set towards Jerusalem!”
This attitude reveals man’s hate for God. It also reveals just how radical conversion is. For the Apostle Paul, it meant recognizing himself as a murderer. He had taken so much pride in killing Stephen, the people showed homage to him for it (acts 7:58) and a few days later he had to come to grips with the fact that not only was he not serving God but he was fighting against Him. His whole Identity was compromised.
Similarly, think about what it takes for any human being to come to Christ. Whether the person is a Muslim, Atheist, Homosexual a Mormon or a Samaritan, their whole life takes a dramatic turn upon coming to Christ. Sometimes it is easy for us to forget it as we look down on those around us, and perhaps judge them and get angry with them. The Bible says that the Devil has ensnared them (2 Tim 2:25) and that he has blinded their eyes so they can’t see the Gospel (2 Cor 4:4).
Third, we learn that Christians struggle to show Compassion.
54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
While the lack of compassion in the disciple’s question is obvious we do understand their sentiment. I mean Jesus is obviously God. He has clearly made himself known in the universe around them. Man is obviously sinful and yet they pridefully reject God and worship the creation rather than the creator (Rom 1:18-25).
But when it comes to bringing down judgment we simply don’t have what it takes. We are too emotional, too driven by circumstances and too short-sighted to know who deserves what type of judgment.
The disciples here are racist. They hate the Samaritans. And despite the fact that in previous cities including Nazareth there was attempted murder on Jesus, the disciples only asked for fire to come down on the people they despised the most. Of course, not wanting to host the creator of the universe into their town was a grievous sin, but nothing in comparison to actually trying to kill him.
Compassion is something that comes when you can relate to the people around you. Perhaps the disciples had forgotten their statuses before coming to Christ. Perhaps the miracles they did at the beginning of Luke 9 got to their head and they began thinking of themselves as greater than the rest of the people around them. Perhaps we too may be tempted to have an attitude of superiority to those in the world, when if it weren’t for the grace and mercy of God we’d be worse than anyone around us.
Fourth we see God is bothered by our lack of compassion.
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.
John 3:17-18 gives us an important truth to consider when it comes to Christ’s ministry on earth. Jesus had one mission in coming to the earth, to save. Man was already condemned they had plenty of proof that God existed but suppressed that truth in unrighteousness. Despite the fact that man was dead Christ came because of his great compassion and died in our place. While it is tempting to condemn those around us we must show compassion towards them. This will show up in our attitudes towards them and in our evangelizing of them.
Too many times we have a bad attitude when it comes to those in the world and forget not only the incredible compassion God showed us, but we forget the fact that these people are captured by their love for sin as well as being ensnared by the devil.
John Macarthur says,
“Remember that even Jesus’ most scathing denunciation – a blistering diatribe against the religious leaders of Jerusalem Matthew 23 – ends with Christ weeping over Jerusalem. Compassion colored everything He did.”
Of course, Jesus always spoke the truth but everything he did was colored in compassion. We too must look to the people around us not with a prideful look but with a look of pity and compassion knowing that if it weren’t for the grace of God we would still be in their shoes lost and on our way to Hell. So let me ask you, how are you doing with compassion?
This article originally appeared on TheCripplegate.com. Used with permission.
Jordan Standridge is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
Image courtesy: Pexels.com
Publication date: May 4, 2017