Summary: The Call of Compassion
If you have your Bibles, I want you to open with me to the book of Romans, chapter 12, verse 17. In Romans 12:17, it reads like this. "Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all." Now I don't know about you guys, but when I read a verse like that, I get a little concerned, because that is very difficult for me to do.
I know that as Christ followers, both you and I are called to live a life of compassion. We are called to live a life of love, a life of justice, of reconciliation, all of those things. We know that life can be lived now, even though it is a life of the future. The Bible gives us an incredible promise. It talks about that one day, heaven and earth are going to come together, and there is going to be no more pain. There is going to be no more heartache. There is going to be no more sin. There are going to be no more injustices.
The beauty of the whole Bible, as a redemptive story, is this. We don't have to wait on the future. Because of the resurrection, the future has broken into the now. In other words, the power of the resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit living deep inside of us, that future has now come to the present, and we can live like that right now.
As a Christ follower, you have a calling. You have an identity. I have a calling. I have an identity. That calling and that identity is to lead the world out of darkness. It's not only to lead the world out of darkness, but it's also a call not to collide with the world by repaying evil for evil.
I've said in the past a lot of times that I believe we're in a spiritual, Western Christianity crisis. What I mean by that is I think we're slowly becoming (if we're not already there) a church in America that is known more for what it is against than what it is for. There are a lot of things I think personally I can be against, but I don't really need to live that thing. What I need to understand is there are a lot of things I am for, and I think that's what the world really needs.
The world needs more love. The world needs more compassion. The world needs more justice. The world needs us to clothe more and to feed more and to take care of people. The world needs for us to show it how to navigate a world that is run amuck, a world that is hostile. We are living, I believe, in a day and age where we are starting to be persecuted more and more as Christians. It's not like it used to be some 30, 40, 50 years ago.
If you were a Christian 30 or 40 or 50 years ago, people kind of liked you. Hello? Nowadays, the moment you begin to mention the name of Jesus, it comes with a heavy stigma, right? All of this kind of stuff comes against your way. "You're judgmental. You're narrow-minded. You're all of these things." Right? Instead of, "Tell me more about this Jesus."
I believe that's where we, as a body of believers, as Christ followers have a responsibility to learn how to navigate this hostile world we now live in, to learn the virtues of the future, these characteristics of the future that will one day be, but that are now in our lives. We have to learn these characteristics, these habits of the heart.
A few months ago I was able to get a brand new truck. I haven't had a brand new truck in my life since way back in 1998. Back in 1998 when I got a new truck it had a lot of the bells and whistles on it. How many of you know 1998 all the way to 2012 (of course, we're in 2013 now)… I own a Chevrolet now, and it's a 2012. It's a brand new truck.
When you get it it, it has all the bells and whistles. It has a great radio, man. It has like satellite radio. It looks like a spaceship. Literally, when I took my 1998 Dodge, and I pulled up to the place to do a trade, I had over 200,000 miles on my truck. I pulled in, and the guy came out, and he goes, "Man, Pastor, I have to tell you something. You pulled that thing in at the right time." He said it had over 200,000 miles on it, and he said the transmission was getting ready to hit the floor.