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October 8, 2010

I Desire Compassion

I really love reading through the Gospels because there are so many challenging thoughts there.  Things that stick in your head and don't seem to resonate with what you've believed your whole life.  While reading today, I came across Matthew 9:13 that says, "But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION , AND NOT SACRIFICE ,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Compassion is such an interesting word that comes from the Latin meaning co-suffering.  I don't know if it was just me, but I remember teaching after teaching in Sunday School and in the Sunday morning service about how we need to make sacrifices for the Lord.  We can't really follow Jesus if we don't give up the bad things in our life that are keeping us from Him so we can really experience freedom.  

I know there are verses that support the idea that we need to remove the junk from our lives, but I found this interesting.  What does it really mean to suffer with someone?  Why does Jesus want that compassion more than he wants our sacrifice?  If I make sacrifices and give up my coffee shop coffee, eating out, or going to the movies and give that money to a charity, that is fantastic.  It seems there is something different from giving money to someone to feed the homeless and making the effort to go out to the street, hand them a meal and sit and talk with them.  When I suffer alongside them, I am being Jesus to them.  I am not just talking about how Christ can change the world, I am being Christ to the world. 

It reminds me of a homeless guy Sandra and I gave a ride to when we lived in Casper.  If we have cash, we usually try and help the person who is standing on the corner.  I've swiped my credit card and paid for gas for a family that was asking for spare change at a gas station.  Those things are great.  That man in Casper sticks with me though.  I worked at the Walmart there and he was outside all day asking for money.  We bought a few grocery items and gave them to him, then allowed him into our car and we gave him a ride while talking to him about his life and his situation.  I'm not saying this as a brag, because far more often, I just drive by.  I say this because there was something different about eating an orange and drinking a Pepsi with that guy while he shared his story than there is when I roll the window down and hand over a $5 bill.  

More often than not, I live in a sacrifice centered faith, rather than a compassion filled faith.  What would happen if the Church would rise up and start being Christ to the world instead of just talking about Christ to the world?  What would that look like for you?