A few years ago while attending a conference I had an experience that changed my view of the world forever. I was sitting in the very back row of the balcony of venue watching a video that had been produced to raise awareness regarding the plight of children living in extreme poverty. The scene was a relatively busy city street. The time stamp said it was about 8p. A little girl no more than 10 years old entered the frame carrying some blankets and a pillow. I watched as she meticulously made a little place to sleep on that busy street. She spread out the blankets very carefully, lining the edges up neatly. Then put her tattered and dirty purple and pink pillow down, curled up under the top blanket and went to sleep. The whole time you could see feet walking by. No one stopped. Cut to 9:10p. The girl seems to be sleeping soundly. Feet still walk past. None of them break stride. They continue past. Cut to 10:42p. The girl stirs a little. She’s trying to find a more comfortable position on that cold hard pavement. More feet pass. Feet keep walking past. They never stop. As I write this remembering the images, I’m almost in tears again.
That video created a visceral feeling in the pit of my stomach. Ever since then, my wife and I have made a point to give financially to organizations that help provide for little girls like that. As a member of the Ann Arbor West Rotary Club, I am currently working on two projects that will help little girls like that.
Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach? That feeling of sorrow and pain for someone else?
I think Jesus had a feeling like when he saw the crowds of people that gathered when he taught. In Matthew 9:36, it says that Jesus had compassion for or was moved with compassion for the crowds. In the original language that word describes an emotion that creates a visceral response. When he saw all the people looking for someone to believe in, someone to follow, someone in whom they could trust, Jesus felt like I did watching that video of the little girl. It was for them, for us, that he came, lived, taught, died, and rose again. He did that out of love. He was moved with compassion.
How should this inform the life of the Christ-follower?
When’s the last time you were moved with compassion? When was the last time you saw an injustice and felt in the pit of your stomach that something must be done to fix it?
The world is full of injustice. Full of evil. Full of sin.
The good news of Jesus Christ is that he came to right the wrongs, heal the sick, free those in bondage (both spiritually and physically). God sent Jesus to do that. Jesus is sending his church to continue on the mission that he started while he was here.
This is what it means to be the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). As his body, we are to continue to do the work that he started. This is how we spread the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
If we’re not actively working to spread the Kingdom of God by eliminating sin and evil in the world, we are not following Jesus. We should be moved with compassion to do something to fight the evil that is rampant in this world. This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
What moves you with compassion?