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Archive for the tag “compassion”

A Compassionless Society

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The above quote is an excerpt from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus which is engraved in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. I quote it because it seems to me to be representative of one of the great pillars of this country from even before its inception–compassion–harkening even back to the days when the first Pilgrims came to these shores seeking religious freedom. But this pillar is tottering & may have already fallen. We now live in a country (and maybe even a world) that has no compassion–at least not collectively (I’m sure there are still those who are compassionate on an individual or personal level).

In recent weeks/months, I’ve witnessed news accounts & Twitter/Facebook posts that demonstrate just how callous we’ve become as a nation. I’ve seen busses full of children/families trying to escape conditions most Americans cannot even imagine blocked by an angry mob more concerned about how the children entered this country than what the children are running from or how desperate their needs might be.

I’ve seen a bill likely to be introduced into my own state’s legislature that would withhold state funding from communities that are willing to take in some of these refugee children.

    Do you realize that the current “immigration crisis” primarily involves children? Do you realize these refugee children are fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world? Do you realize that we live in one of the richest country in the world, and that although these refugees may cause a significant financial strain to local governments, if churches and individuals would step up to care for them rather than leaving the care of orphans (& widows & the poor & the oppressed & the …) to the State, it cause nearly the strain that it currently might?

And I’ve seen people up in arms over bringing home a nurse and physician with ebola who have risked their own lives to help others. Forget that every conceivable precaution has been and is being taken (above and beyond what is needed even) to prevent that horrendous disease from spreading. Forget that those infected might want a chance to be close to family before they potentially die. Forget that death is not a certainty with Ebola or that they can receive the best possible care here in the US. Forget that the greatest threat for the spread of the disease is coming in contact with the blood or secretions of someone with ebola who has not been diagnosed. Forget that this desire to keep them out of the country may negatively impact people’s desires to serve those in need overseas.

No. Only remember that Ebola is a contagious disease that wreaks havoc (in spurts) on another continent that doesn’t have the facilities or resources that are available in this country to keep something like it from spreading.

    I saw an interview with one of the doctors at Emory yesterday morning regarding the precautions in place to prevent the spread of Ebola. Do you realize the room the patient is being cared for in was designed in conjunction with the CDC to treat SARS patients? Do you realize that SARS is much more contagious than Ebola? Do you realize Ebola is not spread through airborne particles but only through contact with contaminated blood/secretions?

I understand some concern about these things; concern is normal. But what I see, or what is implied whether intended or not, by these kinds of reactions is hate. Hate for one’s neighbor (before you try to argue that these people aren’t your neighbors, look over Luke 10:25-37). Hate toward anyone or anything that might upset our comfortable little lives.

You can deny that it’s hate all you want, but I think such an overt lack of compassion & love for others can be nothing but hate.

I think what really bothers me more than anything about what I’m seeing is that much of it seems to be coming from the “Christian” Right. If we call ourselves by the name of Christ, then we, above all others, should be at the forefront of demonstrating compassion and love and caring for others in dire need. We should willingly be sacrificing our own desires, & even lives, rather than trying to save our comfortable existence in this world. Or have you forgotten this world is not our home & we are merely sojourners here? Have you forgotten Christ’s great love for us that while we were still sinners he DIED for us? Have you forgotten that we should love others BECAUSE He first loved us?

I have a recommendation for you if you are a conservative Christian: Pay greater attention to the Word of God through which you were saved than any of the talking heads in the media; they have their own agendas (or the “news” organization’s) to promote that are not God’s agenda.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭27‬ ESV)

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (‭Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭36‬ ESV)

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭14‬ ESV)

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (‭Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭33-35‬ ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭12‬ ESV)

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭13-14‬ ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (‭Exodus‬ ‭22‬:‭21-22‬ ESV)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬ ESV)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (‭Zechariah‬ ‭7‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭41-46‬ ESV)

We Are Sinners But God Is Compassionate

If you’re not familiar with the Old Testament nation of Israel & its history of being shown over & over again miraculous signs & wonders from God yet repeatedly rejecting Him, Psalm 78 is a good overview of that history. However, while I was reading it this evening 2 verses stuck out in the midst of the psalm:

In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
[…]
Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
(Psalm 78:32, 38 ESV)

These verses are not only true in relation to the Old Testament nation of Israel; they are also true for us today in relation to Jesus the Christ. We see the wonders of God daily: the sunrises; the changing of the seasons; the growth of plants; the awesome variability of the flora & fauna; the growth of a human from the joining of sperm & egg into a little baby, small child, teenager, adult; and on and on and on. We also have the testimony of the Bible from the wonder of creation through the mighty works of God in the Old Testament to the miracles of the New Testament, & the ultimate of all wonders in God’s Word–the resurrection of Jesus from death!

In spite of all this, we still sin; despite all these wonders, we still do not believe!

And yet, God is compassionate! Even though we do not obey His Word. Even though we sin against Him. Even though we reject the Creator of all things. Even though we reject the Savior. Even though we do all these things to directly offend Him who is infinite & is perfect in all aspects of His character (which means He is infinite & perfect in both Love AND Justice among many other attributes). He desires to see His people saved!

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

God’s most basic laws show us that we are sinners & should make us realize, merely by comparing our individual lives to His standard, that we are incapable of obeying His laws of our own accord:
1. We love other gods (This means we love other things above God Himself, not necessarily that we love specific gods such as those of other religions, though it definitely means that as well)
2. We serve images & idolize things above God.
3. We use God’s name flippantly.
4. We do not set aside a day for God. We do not rest from our worldly pursuits & focus purely on Him.
5. We do not honor our parents (while under their roof or once on our own)
6. We murder (if not literally, than by our anger with others–see Matthew 5:21-22)
7. We commit adultery (if not literally, than by our lust of others–see Matthew 5:27-28)
8. We steal (there is no qualification here of the worth of the object stolen)
9. We lie about others.
10. We desire things that others have.
[from Exodus 20:3-17]

And if that was not enough, look at what Jesus says in Mark 12

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Do we manage to uphold even these 2 things?!

And yet, God is compassionate on us wretched sinners who deserve His Just Wrath for our transgressions against His infinite character! Jesus came to fulfill God’s law & accept the punishment we deserve in our place as only one who was fully God and fully man could possibly do. He willingly laid down His life, & if He had done only that, it would be of no eternal consequence; it would essentially be meaningless. He also rose from the dead. He defeated Death! Because of that, we have hope!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22 ESV)

Jesus is the good news to the bad news that we have sinned against God and are deserving of eternal punishment. How does this good news, this Gospel, become your hope? Repent, turn away, from your sinful ways; believe in Jesus the Christ and what He accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 ESV)

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