Why Compassion?

Why Compassion?

November 01, 2016 - 09:30
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Passionate evangelism, intentional discipleship, and purposeful compassion top the list of important ministries of growing Christians. They all flow naturally from a Christ-centered life. Jesus called His followers to passionate evangelism (sharing the good news about Christ) and intentional discipleship (assisting new believer growth in the Christian faith) when He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).

But, what about purposeful compassion? Is that actually spiritual? Why should we involve ourselves in something that may not be a faith matter? Let’s explore these questions, and then consider an answer that may surprise you.

Humanitarian concern

A basic reason for compassion flows from the Golden Rule summarized by Jesus as, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). You don’t have to be a Christian to feel the human impulse to help someone in need. Those who follow a variety of world religions and those who claim no religious affiliation recognize the importance of offering humanitarian aid. So, at a basic human level, Christ’s followers offer warm hearts and ministering hands to the needy.

Body of Christ

Christians feel an urge to participate in purposeful compassion as members of the Body of Christ. Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 12 that every believer is a member of Christ’s body on earth with a ministry role. Paul specifically said in verse 27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” We speak often of believers serving as the hands and feet of Jesus on earth. Thus, at a more spiritual level, Christ’s followers offer ministering hands to share with the needy, seek justice for the oppressed, foster inclusion for the outcast, work to break the societal cycles that entrap people, and strive toward a better life for all.

Participating in God’s mission

Both humanitarian concern and membership in the body of Christ offer worthy reasons for our compassion and work for justice in our needy world. But a superior reason motivates our efforts.

God created our world, everything in it, and all we see across the far-flung heavens. He looked across the horizons of creation with pleasure. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Perhaps the most powerful force God created on earth was not majestic waterfalls, hurricane winds, or mighty ocean currents. Human free will just might be God’s most dynamic creation. He gave humanity the capacity to walk with Him freely—or not. We chose our way, which brought brokenness, pain, and suffering not only to humanity but to all of God’s creation. In our selfishness, we broke the heart of our loving heavenly Father. However, He did not abandon us in our hopeless wanderings.

From the garden fall (Genesis 3) until this very moment, God has daily sought to bring lost humanity back to His heart and to restore creation’s brokenness. God does not work alone; He invites us to join Him in mission to redeem our broken world. As we draw close to God’s heart, we more clearly see the needs of hurting humanity and hear their cries for help. We also see the blight on creation and need for its care. We partner with God to restore individuals and creation to wholeness.

Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we recite Jesus’s words, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

We do not simply acknowledge that God’s will is done perfectly in heaven; we offer our hands and feet to work with God to bring His kingdom to our world.

We believe that God’s grace offers optimism, hope, and transformation. God transforms not only the lives of Christ’s followers but also the communities, cities, and countries where His disciples live, work, and minister. No tension exists between evangelism, discipleship, compassion, and justice-seeking. All strive to bring healing and wholeness to everything and everyone damaged by sin.

We believe eternal life begins when a new believer trusts in Christ for salvation. The Bible says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Not “will have” but “has.” In like manner, we do not wait to see God’s kingdom come to earth at the end of time. Rather, we participate with God in mission and watch Him bring divine transformation. That’s what motivates our compassion.

Join with us today as we participate in God’s mission to bring God’s kingdom to our world—where His will is done on earth, as well as in heaven. Proclaim with the prophet Amos (5:24), “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Frank M. Moore, Editor-in-Chief

Holiness Today
November/December 2016