The Compassion of Christ

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The Compassion of Christ

I generally dislike a scarcity mindset. I dislike it in organizations (including churches), in theology, and in myself.

More often than not, consumption, not supply, is the problem. At times, we need to change how we allocate or distribute whatever seems scarce. It can be hard—even impossible—to see how to make these adjustments if we assume there will never be enough no matter what we do.

And yet, one thing that does seem to be in short supply these days is compassion.

Compassion isn’t sympathy or empathy or even pity. Compassion means “to suffer with.” Compassion is feeling plus action.

Compassion requires us to not only acknowledge someone’s pain (that’s sympathy) or relate to someone’s pain (that’s empathy) but to actually enter their suffering with them. (Read more.)

The good news is that the Compassion of Christ is never in short supply.

In Mark 6:34, we read that Jesus “went ashore [and] he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them.”

Jesus—the God of everything—felt compassion.

Jesus was faced with the needs of over 5,000 people and he didn’t feel sympathy or empathy or even pity; Jesus felt compassion.

In the face of countless human needs, Jesus didn’t shy away. He began to teach the crowd, to give them what they needed.

The disciples looked at the crowd and they, too, saw how much the crowd needed. Operating from a scarcity mindset, they didn’t think there was enough to go around.  They told Jesus to send everyone home. Instead, Jesus created abundance so the crowd could stay (Mark 6:30-44).

In the face of immense human need, Jesus responded with an abundance of compassion.

This is still true today. The abundance of God remains inexhaustible.

When we aren’t able to see this, our own lack of compassion is usually to blame. When this happens to me, it’s a signal that I’ve lost sight of what I know about God and I’ve remade God in my own image—angry, impatient, and stingy with my short supply of compassion.

The good news is that God’s love is not a scarce commodity. In fact, God IS love (1 John 4:8). And God’s mercies are constantly renewing (Lamentations 3:22-23). This means the Compassion of Christ is available to us when we need it most.

In other words, we sometimes operate out of a scarcity mindset when it comes to God’s love. We forget this truth: we can’t out-consume God’s love for us.

Do you need to be reminded today that God feels compassion towards you? Can you feel that God is with you in your suffering? How can God’s compassion inspire you to be more compassionate towards others? Tell me about it in an email, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

More like this from Beth:

Sermon: The Compassion of Christ, Gray Memorial UMC in Tallahassee, Florida (07/18/2021)

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