Several times in the gospels you see that Jesus was moved with compassion. I have always liked that picture. When Jesus sees people He is moved by their situation. Jesus, being the express image of the Father, demonstrates how God feels about us.
The thing is, even as Christians, we don't always feel that way about the people we run into, and we're supposed to be the home office of care and compassion. We are supposed to be like Jesus.
It is easy here in New York to slip into the stereotypical mindset of that guy who walks around with twelve bitter grudges on his list, the remnants of the last twelve situations in which some person rubbed him the wrong way or failed to meet his expectations or cost him money. You get the picture. Bump him just a little and he unleashes all of his frustration on you! A lot of pain gets meted out in that situation and is just as destructive to the one venting as the one getting dumped on. But worse than the pain of short term venting on people is the long term development of cynicism or insensitivity towards other people. That's a real loss.
I don't know, but it seems like it would be easy for a policeman or a judge or someone else who deals frequently with those who have violated the law to begin seeing people, even the innocent, only in that light. Similarly, people in the caring business (nurses, ambulance drivers, pastors, the lady at the front desk of the walk-in clinic, etc.) can become hardened to people in pain. I guess you could call that an occupational hazzard; a general loss of sensitivity and fairness to people.
But it is good to remember, that in the midst of all those people who let us down, cut us off in traffic, or rub us the wrong way, there is still a need for compassion. It's good to be reminded that people do suffer and their pain is not diminished just because we may have seen a lot of it lately.
As a pastor on staff at a large church it is easy to get busy and to slip into the mode of just processing through all the requests that come from people. (Thinking about it right this moment, I am actually humbled and amazed that people would value me enough to seek me out and ask for my input into their lives! It is all too easy to take that for granted!) But lately I have been reminded that there are people around me who need compassion, someone to just care a little, help them pray, tell them they are not throw-aways, encourage them to dust themselves off from their latest fall and keep walking with the Lord. My life and its outcome, although it preoccupies me, is not all that matters.
One of the lessons you have to learn in order to maintain a healthy attitude as a Christian is to not look too closely at people or to place them too high on the pedastal of our expectations. Instead, you have to keep your eyes on Jesus. In lieu of forming our attitudes based on the multiple bad examples we experience with humanity, we can, more and more, adjust our attitudes based on what we see in Jesus. He cares, He's right, He's moved with compassion, He's dependable. Because He is all of those things and more toward us, we can afford to be that way with others. And we should try to.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I've never been to sea. Don't want to start now (I am highly susceptible to motion sickness and should have an endorsement deal with Dramamine). I guess when you go out to sea it takes a while for your legs to adjust to the constant tossing around of the waves and the need for keeping your balance. When applied to average landlubbers like myself, I think the phrase "getting my sea legs" describes the feeling of uncertainty one has when embarking on a new venture and the effort to adjust to it. That I understand.
It seems I am always adjusting to some new venture, and for me it is always an ad-venture. This New York adventure continues and has been one of the most interesting and fulfilling we have ever embarked on.
Our CD, Come In, has been an awesome adventure that is still in process.
Life with kids is always an adventure but life "interrupted" as it were by the arrival of a baby in your mid-forties: that's an adventure! A very sweet interruption!
Life with God and daily applying your heart to what matters is always an adventure. And as a pastor, life with people presents constant opportunity for growth, fun, humor, frustration, anger, adjustment, learning, teaching, etc.
In a world where there are a gillion blogs why do I want to publish one? For me it is a chance to have an extended conversation about things that matter, things that are funny, sad, etc. Maybe some conversations that can encourage someone or even generate a new idea. Conversations about all of the above and more.
One of the most powerful things that happen in a small group setting (5-11 people) is that you will almost always come away having an idea or a thought that you would never have had otherwise. I like that. Maybe this will be like a small group.
Anyway, we'll see what happens.