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Synopsis of Being as Compassionate as Christ
Good and joyful morning this morning to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or what ever is your favorite…. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God. And today’s slice comes from….
Mark 1:40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto him, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. and Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, “I will; be thou clean.” And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And He straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; and saith unto him, “See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing.”
Let me read that last sentence by Christ is the New Life Testament version:
“Go right over to the priest and let him examine you. Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing.”
The point of my message today is that if we had the compassion of Jesus, it would change our families, churches, and neighborhoods for the better. It would allow us to give to others what all of us want for ourselves. It would enable us to fulfill the purpose for which we leave our footprints on this planet. The world’s experts squabble over the precise meaning of terms like pity, sympathy, mercy and empathy.
Pity and sympathy express how we feel when we observe another person undergoing affliction. We recall what was taking place within ourselves as we underwent some similar experience. Then, if the shared experience is intense enough, we call it empathy. It’s as if we somehow crawl inside the sufferer’s skin, and the two of us merge into a sort of emotional oneness. When we empathize we are identified with the other person that it’s as if we are hearing with their ears, seeing with their eyes, reasoning with their heart, and thinking with their mind.
The apostle Paul used a Greek term for internal organs to refer to a “heart of compassion.”
Let me just read it: Colossians 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
In studying the life of Christ we are constantly finding the differing attitudes of the Jewish nation, of which He was a member, and the Greek philosopher attitude. The gods of the philosophers were like an icicle that never melts. And so it is with today’s Christian who cannot let go of an offence. By contrast, the God of the Israelites, and therefore our God, is not just an eternal thought. While unchanging in His nature and purpose, He is genuinely personal.
Eliminate God’s compassion, and God is no longer God – the personal God who interacted with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Eliminate compassion, and God is not longer the God who has experiences comparable to our own states of joy, regret, grief, and merciful kindness. Caring is that compassionate neighbor-love that Paul declared in 1st. Corinthians chapter 13 where he wrote: 13:1-5 If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever
Jesus, was a Jew by birth and a devout Jew by religious practice. Being a Jew he certainly knew the Jewish word “Shalom” … a word so rich in content that it’s almost untranslatable. Shalom is an order of life characterized by joy and justice, piety and plenty of kindness and caring. Yet they, God’s chosen people, failed to achieve God’s loving compassion. Isaiah graphically illustrated both the moral and the spiritual sickness of that disobedient nation.
So often I hear derogatory comments about the Jews, about Israel, because of their lack of compassion shown to Christ. Yet, I ask are we, in this American Christian nation any better. Where is compassion in abortion, parents in nursing homes, hungry children in the same cities with four-star restaurants; and the list goes on.
Because of the lack of compassion of the Jews toward Christ divine punishment besought them. Eventually pagan invaders ravaged that country and took into exile the survivors of war, famine, and disease. If you recall God, in His mercy eventually allowed a remnant of Israelites to return from exile.
Then the next generation so sternly determined to prevent a repetition of their forefather’s sinful failure that they turned to legalism that extended from 400 BC to 400 AD. That’s 800 years of restrictive rules and regulations they developed. Religion became a list of “Do Nots”.
First these man-made legalistic rules were handed down orally, and grew by exaggerations. Then commentaries were added and then commentaries added to the commentaries until they had a large written volume called the Talmud, an out-and-out library of precise, hairsplitting directives and prohibitions.
Matthew 23:13 “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you won’t let others enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and you won’t go in yourselves. Yes, how terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn him into twice the son of hell as you yourselves are. Blind guides! How terrible it will be for you! “
Christ saw through the legalism of religious people back then and I believe he sees the legalism of today’s legalistic churches that run people away from Christianity. I still remember back when I was in the process of opening the first church I pastored. I went to an insurance agent to obtain coverage for the building. After all was signed up she asked me what kind of church was this to be. I answered it would be an Interdenominational Church. She replied that was not what she was asking, and then said, “There are only two types of churches; those who preach fear and those who preach love.” I believe she was right. Why shout in loud voice all the don’ts at sinners when you can whisper the love of Jesus Christ and win them to Him.
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