I don’t like country music. (I’m sure I just lost half of everyone reading this blog.) I grew up around grandparents that loved country music. John Denver, Dolly Parton, Jimmie Rogers, and Loretta Lynn (among others) was playing in the car every time we went somewhere or on vacation to visit my relatives in West Virginia. I remember that I had to sit through the Lawrence Welk Show and He-Haw before I could watch my favorite show at the time, Dukes of Hazard. Even today, I just can’t get into country music. I don’t tap my foot. I can’t dance to it. It doesn’t move me like it moves other people. There is music in this world that moves different people. Being a Gen Xer full of angst, give me the good music like Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters. Just like Country music doesn’t move me, my grunge music won’t move other people.
When we look at our broken world and see all of the pain, suffering, and injustices in the world we can easily get overwhelmed. Modern-day slavery, human trafficking, racism, the refugee crisis, child soldiers, deportation/immigration, poverty, gun violence, there are countless issues and more that we can come face to face with on a daily basis. It is easy to become numb to everything and take on a view that says, “Well everything is going to hell, we better just pack it in and wait for Jesus to come back because he said it would get worse in the end times.” First, that is a view of giving up and we all know that God has not given up on us or this world. He is still living and active, moving in every part of our life and the life of this world. Secondly, there are people living in these horrific situations that are in need of saving, literally and waiting is not an option.
When Jesus met a man with leprosy, attended the funeral of his good friend Lazarus, when Jesus saw the crowds following him, he was moved with compassion. We can too easily confuse compassion with pity. The two are not the same and we need to be aware of what we are experiencing.
Pity is an emotion of sympathy we feel when we see or experience someone in distress or is hurting. If you have ever seen a friend suffer from losing a loved one, or people living in poverty, chances are you had a deep feeling of pity for them. Many times this is where we stop. We have this uncomfortable feeling and experience, but then we leave, go home and do nothing else. We had a great feeling, but we did nothing with it. This is not the life Jesus has called us to live, a life of feeling without action.
Compassion is a feeling of sympathy but it moves us to action, to a commitment to someone or something. Compassion moves us. Compassion is the song God plays in our heart that causes us to tap our foot and to move into the situation to bring mercy, love, and justice. In the greek compassion is a gut level strong emotional feeling that moves us to do something about the situation.
Jesus was moved with compassion with the man who had leprosy and healed him. Jesus was moved by compassion for the crowds to which he healed, taught them about the Kingdom of God, and gave hope to people who felt hopeless and lost. Jesus was moved by the brokenness in this world and stepped into our messiness. This is a great reminder to me that God is drawn to our brokenness and messiness, not because we have the answers or have life all together. He came to heal our hurts, wounds, and scars. As followers of Jesus, we should do the same because we are moved, not out of duty.
What moves you? When you look at this world, what breaks your heart? What causes you to want to do something about the hurt in this world? We all don’t have to have the same cause nor should we expect everyone to have the same cause. We are all part of the Body of Christ and He has called us to get involved in different issues at home and/or around the world. I don’t have a huge passion for some issues in this world, but I fully support those who do and want to bring healing. We can’t do everything great, but we can commit to doing a few things with greatness.
Don’t just to have pity and a feeling of sympathy, but be moved with compassion and jump into the mess and get involved in bringing hope, love, mercy, and justice into this world. Find what moves you. Jesus has saved us into a life of meaning and purpose by joining Him in the redemption and salvation of all things.