The truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, and too few of us ever weep them. ~ John R.W. Stott
What moves you? What is it that summons you, deep within your heart, to get up and act? Is it a holy longing or perhaps just a gentle nudge? In our hyped-up, overloaded, individualistic and consumer-based culture here in Canada, can you recall a time, a place, a person or an incident that actually made you stand up and move?
A few years ago, my wife Heather and I met a family that made us get up and take action. They had a 2-year-old son who suffered from a very severe form of infantile epilepsy. The deep compassion we felt for the family genuinely moved us and as a result, we became actively involved in caring for he and his family. Through that experience, we came to appreciate the great lengths to which many foster parents go.
I also learned that compassion is a very different response than pity.
Almost all of us can feel pity – or deep concern – when we are placed before incredible hurt and suffering, poverty, despair, brokenness, human tragedy or natural disasters. Intellectually and spiritually, we know that such situations are wrong. But do we act? Does it make us move toward the real work of healing?
The example of Jesus responding with compassion in the Bible is powerful and challenging.
One of my favorite verses, Mark 6:34, is translated this way in an old English version: “And Jesus… saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” More recent versions soften the response as “Jesus felt compassion.”
We read that Jesus was ‘moved’ with compassion. Quite literally, Jesus’ intestines were gripped because of the lostness of his sheep. It wasn’t just pity or sadness. He didn’t simply say “those poor sheep.” Jesus was moved – he got moving – and moved his disciples.
Jesus’ compassion led him to respond in two different but complementary acts. He taught them, and then he and his disciples gave them something to eat. Notice the two-fold movement: word (teaching) and deed (feeding). This is integral mission.
In this issue of mosaic, you will read about people around the world who are moved by compassion and are responding with word and deed, just as Jesus did. Whether it’s in Lebanon where a little Baptist church reaches out to feed Syrian refugees who have moved into their community, or the Democratic Republic of Congo where a child soldier receives counselling because of a local church and decides to commit his life to Christ, or in Nepal where a devastating earthquake triggered a global Baptist response to help people rebuild their lives.
Thousands of Canadian Baptists across our country are also being moved with such compassion. In neighbourhoods and communities all across our country, whether it’s in Saskatoon, Saint John or on one of our First Nations’ Reserves, local churches are taking action with compassion and justice.
My prayer is that God will give us even more opportunities to express his compassion in a broken world. May he continue to lead us in the right direction of service as we move and respond.