When on the mountain getting a close up view of God, among the first words Moses hears from God is that God is compassionate (Exodus 34:6). Whatever God does has to be evaluated through the perspective of compassion. So, when we live compassionate, we are not just learning how to do kind things. We are living out the character of God. When we live compassionate, we also become gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness.
Compassion is a downward move in an upward moving world. Jesus challenged his disciples, who all had an eye on the future opportunity of position and power, with a different way of living. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). While the world teaches us to acquire, Jesus teaches us to give away.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is the petition and vision of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10) activated and made visible when compassion finds its fulfillment in the action of service to others. Just as Jesus spoke and lived this vision out, he sends us out to find “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
The Roman Empire was a harsh place for those who were poor, weak, sick, and dying. However, Christians responded to these overlooked people (Christian or not) out of three important understandings: the inherent image of God in others, God’s self-giving love, and the ministry of Jesus. Because of this, Christians became living (and dying) witnesses of compassion, the heart of the character of God, especially as they came alongside the sick and dying in the midst of epidemics.
It was compassion that caught the attention of the world in those first centuries. It is compassion that will catch the attention of the world today. Rather than trying to change people, we come alongside to serve, and let love do its work.
Watch and listen as Micah Hobbs, our Preaching Minister, describes Live Compassionate from his experience.