Summary: How can we address the sea of humanity that is now pressing upon us for assistance?
A Passion for Compassion
Defend the weak and fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
The world that you and I live in is a world that is harsh, cold, and hard when it comes to the needs of the poor, the sick, the orphans and the widows created by war, disease and famine. As Christians we respond in ways that are very different from the world that has created these desperate situations. As Christians we respond with the love of Christ, a love that is self-sacrificing and a love that is filled with compassion towards the fatherless, the poor and the oppressed.
It is our distinct way of responding to these needy ones that sets us apart in our attitude and character. The late Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote several books and one that I found interesting was “What if Jesus had Never been Born?” In that book Rev. Dr. Kennedy goes on to list the many positive social changes that were promoted by Jesus and found their way into the life and activities of the Christian church.
He tells of a particular incident in history that serves as an example of how we the church should see the poor and destitute.
“St. Laurence was a deacon in the Christian church, who was quite generous, especially to the poor. He lived in Aragon (Spain) of the Roman Empire of the third century. During one of the persecutions, he was ordered to bring to a Roman official some of “the treasures of the Church”. What he brought were some poor, downtrodden and lame people, and he said of them, “These are the treasures of the Church”. For this response, he was roasted to death on a gridiron.” Pg. 28 Chapter 3 What if Jesus had never been born” D. James Kennedy 1994 Nelson Publishers U.S.A.
In Dr. Kennedy’s home state of Florida there exists today a shelter for the homeless named after St. Laurence where people can get a meal, shelter, use a P.O. Box for an address, write a resume, get help with counseling, job searches, telephone access, showers and clothing. In short they are restored out of love so that they can re-enter society to serve others.
This is the kind of compassion that Jesus demonstrated throughout His ministry. It is the kind of compassion that Jesus illustrated for us in the Parable of “The Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37.
Last week we looked at God’s compassion toward all of humanity as God holds out Salvation to all and to whosoever will. Our Heavenly Father does not wish to destroy life but rather desires to save life since He is the author of life. We the Church are called the “Children of God” and as God’s children we are to emulate our Father's character as life savers. For this reason we try to love and serve others the way Jesus did – selflessly.
The compassion that Jesus demonstrated and that we are to emulate is to extend beyond our own widows and our own poor within the church. Jesus taught us that to help anyone in His name is to help one of His brothers or sisters.
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
With this in mind I think of the opportunity we have to help the Refugees that are making their way to our country and to our community.
They may or may not be Christian but they will certainly be in need. They have suffered the ravages of war and death and now they are unable to live in their own countries because of persecution of every kind.
We can exercise our compassion by reaching out to them once they arrive and by helping the various groups, churches and social services to make their new life a life of hope and peace. We will have an opportunity to give.
Our world has changed a great deal just in the last few years. I was commenting on this with my wife just the other night. We agreed that these once desperate situations are becoming more and more commonplace. This new reality is a real challenge to all of us who call ourselves Christian. It is stretching our resources and abilities to the very edge and we find that the needs are overwhelming.
How do we respond to overwhelming need?
How can we address the sea of humanity that is now pressing upon us for assistance?