It was a few years back in another city. I was sitting at a stop light, waiting for the light to turn green, and noticed a commotion at the bus stop ahead. I first saw a few students huddling in a pack, pointing and laughing as they walked past the bus stop. As this little group avoided the area, with snickers and looks back, a car sped by and honked at someone or something at the bus stop and another car did the same. I was curious at what was causing the honking and jeering. Then another car came racing around the corner, parked with jerk just past the bus stop, and a woman rushed out of the driver’s seat. As well, two men came running across the street, descending on the bus stop. The light turned green, and as we all crept by, we saw the three people helping a man in a powered wheelchair that had fallen on its side. I decided to stop and help too, but they had mostly gotten him back up as I got there. He had evidently been yelling at those kids for some reason and did not notice he was heading off the curb. He was ok…still angry at the kids, but more embarrassed that we were making such a fuss. We all made sure he was ok as he asked us to ‘let him alone.’
This story came back to mind as I thought about how we tend to act towards each other. Sometimes we laugh at other’s misfortune, sometimes we sarcastically honk our comments and move on, sometimes we don’t even notice or just watch as we drive on, and other times we are moved with compassion to do something. What causes us to respond as we do?
If you are like most people, there is a desire to be a bit more compassionate. We all tend to want to be more empathetic and feel with someone in their difficult condition or circumstances. In that empathy, we want to help. We want to alleviate suffering in some way. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. Why do you suppose we act the way we do?
I know in Jesus’ case, His love for people caused Him to be moved with compassion. We could learn a lot from Jesus about being moved with compassion.
Matthew 9:36 When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 When He (Jesus) went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Jesus saw people’s needs. His love for others moved His eyes outward. Jesus also did something about it. He took action. Do you love people enough to see them and be empathetic?
Mark 1:40-42 40 And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
Jesus’ love for people moved beyond the social stigmas (touching lepers was a social taboo) and cared about the people in the margins of life. Who are the margins in your community? They have a story. They have a name. Maybe they could use some compassion.
Matthew 20:30-34 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to Him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him.
Jesus’ love for all people, including those with disabilities, caused Him to stop, even be interrupted and take a pause, to let His compassion move Him to help. I know we can’t help everybody and there are times we can’t stop, but shouldn’t there be times we do?
Our world, our communities, our homes could use some compassionate moves. Maybe from you?!? What if no one had stopped to help that guy in the motorized wheel chair?
Church can be a place where compassion is encouraged. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, please feel invited to our church. Our website has information about our various campuses and online sermons: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love to have you connect with us.
Seeking to make some compassionate moves along with you,