Being compassionate involves more than kindness. It is the passion to develop strategies and structures to lift up those who are down.
If our political and economic systems allow the marginalized to fall between society’s cracks, then we who have been loved into action by a compassionate God are encouraged to challenge the existing order or to find ways to alter their predicament. To fail to do this is to lose God in the chaos of society.
The great Norwegian novelist, Johan Bojer, makes that point powerfully in his story, The Great Hunger. It happened that an anti-social newcomer moved into the village and put a fence around his property with a sign saying, “Keep Out.”
He also put a vicious dog at the fence to keep anyone from climbing over it. One day, the neighbor’s little girl reached inside the fence to pet the dog and the dog grabbed her by the arm and savagely bit and killed her.
The townspeople were enraged and refused to speak to the recluse. They wouldn’t sell him groceries at the store. When it came time for planting, they wouldn’t sell him seed. The man became destitute and didn’t know what to do.
One day he saw another man sowing seed on his field. He ran out and discovered it was the father of the little girl. “Why are you doing this?” he asked. The father replied, “I am doing this to keep God alive in me.”
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan who came upon the man who was stripped, beaten and left for dead on the road. The Good Samaritan bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him. Was this kindness or compassion that he showed?
The father of the dead girl mauled by the dog and the Good Samaritan wanted the same thing – to keep God alive in their hearts. This is why they both shared, not kindness, but compassion.
With all that is going on in our country and in our own lives with politics ever before us, it is so difficult to keep God alive in our hearts. Jesus shows us how to do this – COMPASSION!!
Thanks to Tommes Frites for the photo.
Consider a time when YOU showed true compassion for another person. Did YOU feel God alive in YOUR heart?
DON’T TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY THEY TREAT YOU! TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY GOD TREATS YOU!!