Archive for August, 2006

What Compassion Looks Like

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. –Thomas Merton

Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment. –Arthur Jersild

Compassion is not sentiment but is making justice and doing works of mercy. Compassion is not a moral commandment but a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies. –Matthew Fox

The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness. –H.H. the Dalai Lama


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Sometimes in ministry we end up doing the right things with the right motives but miss the heart of the mission. We lack compassion. We care about getting things done, but forget about the people it effects. I just finished watching a movie called “Second Chance” which had Michael W. Smith in it. It was a story about a young pastor who’s father was also a pastor of a large growing suburban church. They had all the toys and glitter which come with being a church of multitudes but the heart seemed to be missing. Ethan, played by Michael W. Smith had hoped to inherit this mega church for his own ministry. But before he could do so he had to prove himself at his father’s old church; a church in the inner city which his father had planted. So Ethan sets out to prove that he is capable of ministry no matter its location or size.

As the movie progressed you could tell that Ethan didn’t have his heart set on ministry of the inner city church, “Second Chance Community Church”. He does things half hearted and makes some harmful mistakes along the way. Then one evening while he is packing up his office a young man comes to the door claiming that his friend had been hurt. They rush to the scene and take the young man to the hospital and we see Ethan sitting, waiting with blood stains on his clothes. After a few hours he goes to his fiancé’s home and during a conversation with her admits that he doesn’t think he could give his life for them (the people in the neighborhood). He couldn’t see himself dying for anyone there like the senior pastor would.

I could relate to Ethan. I could understand his heart. It lacked compassion. Though my words say I would die for another individual, my actions are lacking. I mean there are walking dead al around me and I know they are going to hell and I still lack compassion for them. There is a video clip on sermon spice.com which has a young man concerned only about hi own life in a hurry to do whatever he has to do. Then while waiting for his coffee in a coffee shop a stranger comes up to him and hands him a gift, a pair of glasses. He puts them on and strangely he is able to see into the minds of others; he beings to see their concerns. One woman says she is depressed, another has recently lost her job, a man who simply craves a hug. This ability begins to upset the young man and he races home, pulls into his drive way and begins to take the glasses off. As he is taking them off and placing them in the case he stops and sees a young boy. He looks at him as if it were the very first time and sees what concerns him, “Wants someone to show some concern”. The young man places the case on top of the roof of his car and walks towards the boy. The camera pans out and shows the inside of the case which reads, “Get It!”.

I believe God is telling me something concerning ministry. There are ministers who are simply doing ministry rather than being ministers. We are concerned about the administration and drive of the church that we have forgotten about the reason the church exists. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m preaching to myself here. I will be the first to admit that I have been failing at showing compassion to those around me. I have been willing to give up on someone who says “No” to Christ rather than continuing to pray for them daily. I haven’t been seeing people through the eyes of Eternity, though I have preached it from my pulpit. Lord, Please Forgive Me for Failing You!

But the thing about making mistakes is that we have a loving God who wants us to repent an turn away from our sins. He forgives us when we screw up. He loves us unconditionally. And it is in that that my hope rests. And because of that I pray that daily God will conform my heart to become passionate about compassion. I don’t want to be a pastor who simply says “I know what you mean”. I want a heart that says, “God has given me a heart to understand what you are going though”.
A Man once asked Jesus, “Lord, what is the greatest commandment?”
Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…AND love your neighbor as your self.”
Lord Help me to love you daily with all that I am and all that I have. Then Lord, teach me to love people as you love me. Amen!


If you are a Pastor or lay person, make sure your congregation sees this movie.

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