Jesus chose to communicate “The Compassionate Life.”
When Jesus saw the crowds “he had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36) With a broken heart he said aloud to whomever was listening, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Later, he spoke of ministering to “The Least of These” (Matthew 25), demonstrating how we are called to help those that cannot help us in return. Jesus often spoke of his own mission to “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus came to save people from their sins, but he also cared about the whole person. Evangelism and social justice go hand in hand.
The Compassionate Life “stream” emphasizes that Christian spirituality is not just a set of disciplines to benefit the devout, but a trumpet call that seeks the care and transformation of persons, institutions, and communities regardless of their religious orientation.
Believers are motivated by Christ’s love to courageous action, especially on behalf of the weak and oppressed. We are also the voice of the voiceless, pleading their cases in the halls of privilege and power.
Go and do likewise.
Jesus chose a parable to communicate “The Compassionate Life.” The parable of “The Good Samaritan” found in Luke is one of the hallmarks of Christian discipleship. It dares to ask, “who is your neighbor?” But merely asking the question is not enough, for at the end Jesus proclaims, “Go and do likewise.”
I walk away from this parable with more questions than I have answers.
How can we develop a modern day parable to communicate The Compassionate Life?
Who would the characters be?
Who are the despised or rejected people in our communities?
What makes it difficult to accept help or give help to a rejected person?
When was the last time I gave to someone who couldn’t possibly give back in return?
These are honest questions that require honest answers.
But, an even more challenging question brings me face to face with my own nature:
To what type of person is it the hardest for me to extend compassion?
Orphans with runny noses?
The elderly with no family?
The mentally handicapped?
The pregnant teenager?
But, let’s go even further and walk where it really gets messy.
How hard or easy is it for us to extend compassion to other “types” of people?
What about the immigrant?
The woman thrice divorced?
Someone with drastically different political views?
The black man?
The white man?
The woman in a veil at the checkout counter?
Am I pushing some buttons yet?
What about that negative person in your office that you work with every day?
Or the one who viscously attacks in public everything you believe in?
How do we extend compassion to these people?
And what does extending compassion look like for such as these?
As you answer, I challenge you not to give the “easy” answer I often hear in the halls, the fact that “we need to love these people. Love.”
Because while I absolutely 100% agree with this statement, what does that mean?
What did Jesus mean when he said, “Go and do likewise?”