Summary: A sermon that highlights why compassion is important in the church
In today’s readings from Matthew and Romans we see that compassion for others is a sign of the Christian faith.
Listen again to the dialogue between Jesus and His disciples, reading from Matthew 14:15-16.
14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."
16Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
In some ways the disciples are a lot like people today,
they have a knack on being too narrowly focussed.
Of limiting what can be done.
Of limiting Jesus’ and limiting their responsibility.
On the surface the disciple’s approach appears to be a natural solution
a lot of people followed Jesus to a remote area,
they weren’t forced there,
they have the ability and the option of going to places to buy foo.d
And there is not much to eat and there are no McDonalds close by so why not send them back to the villages to buy food.
However there is one big problem to their solution.
And it is that it is totally their solution.
They attempt to tell Jesus what He should be doing.
Rather than asking Jesus how they can support Him in His ministry.
And this is a trap we can all fall into.
Each one of us is called to be part of Jesus’ ministry team.
The body of Christ.
However often we want to determine what boundaries and restrictions we should put in place.
Sometimes this is even done without spending time in prayer and bible reading,
where we seek His guidance on how we are to be part of His ministry here in Burnie/Devonport/Launceston.
It is true boundaries are necessary for everyone.
However when we set boundaries we need to have Jesus’ perspective on what the boundaries should look like.
This involves looking for ways we can help people remain close to him.
This involves tackling difficult situations so that rather than saying we can’t do something, we investigate and be creative in looking at ways to provide ministry.
And this involves not asking whether someone deserves ministry but rather, how can we be generous in ministering to all those who come in contact with us, especially those who are not part of our community.
Consider the story of Oswald Golter.
After ten years service as a missionary in China Oswald Golter, was on His way home.
His ship stopped in India, and while waiting for the connecting boat home he found a group of refugees living in a warehouse on the pier.
They were unwanted, so they were stranded.
Golter went to visit them.
As it was Christmas time he wished them a merry Christmas and asked them what they would like for Christmas.
"We’re not Christians," they said. "We don’t believe in Christmas."
"I know," said the missionary, "but what do you want for Christmas?"
They described some German pastries they were particularly fond of
So Oswald Golter cashed in his ticket home, used the money to buy baskets and baskets of the pastries, took them to the refugees, and wished them a merry Christmas.
When he later told the story, a student said,
"But sir, why did you do that for them?
They weren’t Christians.
They don’t even believe in Jesus."
"I know," he replied, "but I do!"
Do you believe in Jesus?
The Christian Church is a unique organisation.
We are not a club, here to look after ourselves but we are here to be disciples for Jesus Christ.
And in being disciples, our responsibilities extend to making disciples of all types of people.
In other words we exist for those who are not currently at church.
Who do not currently believe in Jesus Christ
God is calling each of us to go out of our way for others.
To bring the compassion of Christ to them, sharing the Gospel in our words and actions.
Not because they are Christians
But because we are Christians.
And Paul in today’s reading from Romans 9 provides us with a further example of this compassion
reading from verse 2 in the New Living Translation,
2My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief 3for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed--cut off from Christ!--if that would save them.
Paul was prepared to give up his own salvation if that meant His Jewish brothers and sisters would be saved.
Would you do that???
It is a pretty big ask isn’t it.
Many parents are prepared to sacrifice a lot for their children,