Monday, August 3, 2009

Still Movable?

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.

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