Yesterday at church, Doug Logan, a pastor who started a church plant in Camden (that my church supports) came to give the sermon. It was great, he totally has a southern Baptist teaching style, asking for a lot of “amen’s” from a typically-quiet room of suburban people. Very entertaining & refreshing. The message he taught was out of Matthew 9:35-38. It hit me hard. It hit me hard because it was something God has been challenging me with. It hit me hard because it was humbling.
Jesus’ ministry was not an easy one. He didn’t have first-class treatment. In fact, he was often poorly-received by that towns he entered. Even as news of him grew, not everyone was jumping up to offer support. Yesterday the pastor noted that our conditions today are exponentially better, and that should mean we should be doing exponentially more to share God’s truth. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not. Why is that? Because my passion is not with the people around me. There is brokenness I see and ignore…or that I just do not see at all. Even when we do address the brokenness, we don’t always do so out of compassion. Doug worded it very well when he said “When you see someone hurting, and it bothers you…help them. Help them to heal them, not to make yourself feel better.” Woah. In our society, we often seek to help others through organizations and charities out of guilt or moral obligation. We feel better about ourselves because we helped someone in need, but not always because they were helped. Jesus’ compassion meant that he felt so strongly for the hurting people that he ached with them. He cared so much that their pain became his own. But he did not cure the sick or heal the blind to make himself feel better or for people to like him, he did it because he cared enough to comprehend the pain. That is what compassion is.
Everywhere compassion is mentioned in the bible, it is followed by missional action. Why? Because compassion is not complacent. Compassion causes a desire for someone else’s well-being over your own. In this part of Matthew 9, Jesus is about to commission his disciples to continue his work. He speaks of how the “harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few” because world needed redemption. Our world needs redemption. No one around us is a closed book. Every person needs to know God’s love. It is not up to us to say whether or not that person is ready of willing to receive the gospel. We cannot claim we are not equipped. The only requirement for missional living is salvation. God calls us to go. Go with boldness & compassion.
Doug closed his sermon with a metaphor I really enjoyed. He used a washing machine to represent our faith. Each of us is a nasty rank piece of clothing. Once we accept Christ as our savior, we are thrown into the wash with everyone else. The water in there stays a little messy, but no one is perfect after they are saved. We are thrown together in this crazy spin cycle of life, only to be removed by our Lord when it is our time. That’s when we are clean; we can’t just hop on out of the machine halfway through. I just loved hearing this. The parallel to being washed of our sin is spot on, but it also reminds us that no one is perfect and the path is still a little rough.
As I think about the people in my life, I can immediately picture the people that are “too difficult” to minister to. I need to fight that. I think about the brokenness I’ve seen and ignored. I need to address that. I think of the selfishness I harbor, because so caught up in myself, that causes me to miss the pain around me. I need to look past that.
I need to boldly & compassionately love the people around me, because some people are still sitting on the laundry room floor.
P.S. Sorry for this long post…I just had so much to say!
P.P.S. #SheReadsTruth started their new study today!! A 31-day plan through Proverbs (perfect…read one chapter a day)