Summary: Our truest self lies not in independance from God but in relationship with God and others…. and finds itself when given to these.
Last week began series entitled LIVING BEYOND SELF… Jesus understood that if we want to truly find ourselves we can’t just look within… to do so will become like the onion being peeled away to find it’s essence…
We find ourselves by losing ourselves… not literally ‘losing’… but in giving ourselves beyond ourselves.
Our truest self lies not in autonomy but in relationship with God and others…. and finds itself when given to these.
So the ‘self’ grows through relationship… not becoming lost in others… but in relationship to others.
This morning I want to explore the power of what allows us this to happen… COMPASSION
Compassion is that which expands us… as it makes room to take in others in our inner being.
When we become self-absorbed… we become small… but the compassionate person is truly the bigger person.
Compassion is the essence of living beyond self… the sustenance of the soul that allows us to become bigger… to grow into the fullness of our God-given nature.
Compassion flows from the very nature of God.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all he has made.
Shouldn’t surprise us that when Jesus bore the human condition, compassion is the inner dynamic within which Jesus lived and lives.
Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Not merely that he felt sad… or bad…
‘Compassion’ comes from two Latin words, ‘suffer’ and ‘with’. Compassion means to suffer with someone, to enter into a person’s situation.
Compassion is not some superficial or romantic feeling; it is a deeply inner effecting sense of the needs of others that quite literally moves us to action.
The original language for the word being translated as compassion bears the literal meaning of bowels… being moved in one’s bowels. Hallmark cards might not do well using that meaning for sympathy cards…. We might refer to what we feel in the ‘heart’… but deep emotions emerge even more deeply… in the way we speak of something being ‘gut-wrenching.’
It is the movement of one being to enter the ife of another… and I believe is the most underestimated power. Jesus proved just how powerful in that the empire of greatest physical force fell … while the force of his life prevailed.
Compassion is the most powerful force that exists. A similar statement could be said of love and the sacrifice which love leads to… but compassion is the initiating force of these.
So how do we cultivate this soul expanding power?
Compassion will expand our souls as we…
1. Begin to see others in the true condition of both need and potential
“When he SAW the crowds, he had compassion on them…”
I’ve come to believe that the primary challenge in living a life of love lie Jesus… is that of seeing people as he does.
I feel like I’ve been trained not to see… or at least to manage what and how I see.
Whereas I can see a crowd and see no people… Jesus sees the real picture of what’s at hand.. individual lives in need.
Jesus has compassion… embraces them as connected to himself… for he sees them as “harassed and helpless…” The words he uses are very physical… even violent.
‘Harassed’ – pushed down and pushed around … with an intensity that could even reflect being molested. He sees the work of something powerful and exploitive. Life may be filled with opportunities… but there is an underlying work of exploitation.
Jesus isn’t enamored with the current condition in which he came to engage this world.
Prodigal Son – off to a distant land… far from home… where he squandered his inheritance… and essentially the life apart from the Father… from God.. . leaves him degraded and exploited.
> THAT is what Jesus sees… IN EVERYONE. From the beggars to the Bill Gates of life.
‘Helpless’ – means pinned and held down. Left to ourselves… there are problems and patterns none of us will simply overcome… we cannot simply escape the condition that binds us… that is how Jesus sees us.
‘like sheep without a shepherd’… leaderless
Rich Nathan -
They need a shepherd and that’s why Jesus came, to be our shepherd. To be our good shepherd, to provide us with leadership for life, to help us sort through all the confusing and contradictory and conflicting advice from the experts. To help us out of the thicket and out of the maze. To free us from the harassment and being pushed around and shoved around, to give us power to overcome that which controls us.