The obedience of compassion

Mike Betts on Lowestoft Beach

My time of study and prayer over these first few weeks of the year is producing some unexpected avenues of thought and questions and prayer! I guess that is to be expected as God sees what I do not and in mercy shows me what I am blind to. The issue of godly compassion is one such thing.

The scenes of the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti are sobering. Even more heart wrenching are some of the stories that do not make the headlines but are almost too painful to think about. Like the short blog I read of an aid worker who located a young girl trapped in a pocket of space in a collapsed building. Having stayed with her for some time he had to leave to catch a plane to the US so as to bring more aid for more people. Her fate would be a long and slow death as no one had the time, capacity or equipment to save her. He said goodbye and left.
A broken and fallen world
Even though we have a bright sunny day as I write this and out of the window all looks beautiful and peaceful. We are in a broken and fallen world. We went out for a meal yesterday for my birthday and I observed a young family struggling to control their out of control young children. The parents themselves were probably the product of out of control parents and so the spiral of sad and dysfunctional life continues.

My mum who along with my step father both have Alzheimer’s had a fall this week and broke her hip. Visiting her in hospital is not nice. She is afraid, even so much so she laid there shaking as she cannot communicate, does not know where she is, does not know what is happening to her and cannot even remember as the physio’s try to get her to walk on her new hip what walking is. I chatted to one of the staff where they live who said to me it is unusual for families to visit here much. Most bring their relatives here and then say they cannot face visiting as it is too upsetting. They want to remember them ‘how they were’.

This shocked me. What gives us the right to ensure our own happiness at the expense of caring for those in our family who are suffering? By whose authority do we remove all the pain in life and the things that threaten our peace and nice settled world? We turn off the news if the images are too horrid, we move tables if the crazy family at the restaurant become too much of a nuisance. We put our families in institutions and then look at photos of how they used to be to avoid having to visit and be distressed.

Moved with compassion
Thank God he did not do that with us. Jesus did not have to leave the glory of heaven and come to earth. He chose to do so, moved with love and compassion for us. His life became uncomfortable to make ours better. Often the Bible says Jesus was ‘moved with compassion’. To be moved means something affects you so you do something about it.

Of late it is good (I think) that more churches are seeking God for more healing power to bring physical relief to those that are suffering. It is good we are reading books and listening to talks of those who have found ‘keys’ to unlock more of the healing so many are pursuing (I think).

The obedience of compassion
I am convinced we will only capture the full essence of Christ’s kingdom and see greater measure of his power and reign from the root of the ‘obedience of compassion’. Jesus said ‘I have come to do your will O God’ his drive was obedience, not fame or self promotion. Even when he healed people he often said ‘do not tell anyone’ why? Possibly so as to not draw attention to himself, his main function and drive was to relieve the suffering of the one he was ministering to.
How different from Simon the sorcerer in Acts who says ‘give me also this ability that when I lay my hands on people things happen’ (my paraphrase). His motivation was the power and attraction of supernatural activity rather than meeting the needs of people who are in dire need.

Compassion is a funny thing. If left unharnessed it can wear us out as the needs are too vast. We can run around like headless chickens desperately trying to fix a world that we cannot fix. There is only one saviour and we are not it!
Even Jesus ‘moved with compassion’ withdrew! Why? So he could find out the path God had for him, so he could have enough capacity to achieve it humanly, so he could make sure he gave his time and energies to the things his Father had in mind. He knew by doing this he would bear much fruit.
The same is true for us, he said that if we remain in him (live in the same way he lived doing the same things with the same heart as he did) then we also would bear much fruit and could ask the Father for the miraculous intervention he alone can give.

This time of study and reflection I am having, this withdrawing from the day to day normal activities of church life, I hope will enable me to be more effective and fruitful. I want to become moved by the ‘obedience of compassion’ as Jesus was. He said ‘follow me’ and this means doing it the way he did it. The Lord will help us with this as he is mindful that we are quite dull and weak and frail and often just do not ‘get it’.

I have had a feeling for some time that 2010 will see more breakthroughs in healing for us in the local church and sphere of churches we are working with. This conviction is making me look at foundations in my life and in the churches to ensure we are as best placed as we can be to steward what God will create amongst us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.