Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Compassionate Friend

by Rev. James Wong

Compassion is a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it. Compassion is a driving force that moves us into action whereas indifference is simply a lack of interest or concern for others. It is easy to adopt a ‘couldn't care less’ attitude. To follow Christ is to move outside our world and change the way we see and feel about others. Here are the incidences in the Bible we see the compassion of Christ in action.

1. Jesus elevated the suffering and helplessness of the people. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36. Jesus saw the diseases and sickness that were harassing and destroying the lives of the people (see v.35). In another instance, there were two blind men who came to Jesus for healing. The Bible says, “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” Matthew 20:34.

Some of us are too engrossed in our own small world that we are blind to the sufferings of the people around us. To have compassion is to take notice of the darker side of life that people are going through and do something about it. There are struggles in life that will never change; illnesses that people suffer, a sense of loss and disappointment, a lack of direction and wrong values of life, broken relationships and broken lives. Do you see these? Are you doing anything?

2. Jesus satisfied the physical needs of the people. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. … Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”” Matthew 14:14, 16; see also Matthew 15:32. One of the reasons why Jesus fed the 5,000 and later the 4,000 was because he had compassion on the hunger and condition of the people. Why take the trouble to feed the hungry? The people were poor and oppressed. The significance of the miracle was that Jesus was concerned for the physical needs of the people. The first church began by taking care of the physical need of the poor (Acts 6:1). Do you see any poor people around you? Families that are having difficulty in making ends meet?

Compassion International is a powerful organization that exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training. Today, Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 26 countries.

Jesus was not only a friend of sinners, he was also a compassionate friend to those who were suffering and poor. Let the compassion of Christ drives us out of our comfort zone.

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