by Christopher Harbin

Real Compassion
Christopher B. Harbin
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

We have all seen a hungry child and been moved to do something: make a donation, offer a meal, bemoan injustice, or quickly avert our eyes to the crisis and refuse to take any responsibility. When our hearts are moved with pity and we let go of a minor portion of our excess to assuage our guilt, we can hardly call that true compassion. What does real compassion look like?
Paul reminded the Ephesians that God had brought them into the body of Christ, despite the fact that they did not belong to the chosen people. While they did not live under the pact established with God, they had been welcomed under God's compassion, grace and love. God's compassion, love, and acceptance came through Jesus' death on the cross, at great personal cost to God. It was God's desire to create intimacy and fellowship with humanity, growing out of compassion for our needs for that same communion, fellowship, and participation in what we call the family of God.
We tend to be good at compassion when it comes to our family members, especially as regards spouses and children. We may easily see their needs and take responsibility for addressing them, simply because we have the power to do so. This category of compassion often does not even feel like compassion. In caring for friends and family, we act and feel as though we were addressing our own needs. There is little thought for the "otherness" of the person reached by our compassion. They simply become an extension of self. Perhaps, this is the heart of true compassion.
Paul spoke of the barriers broken down by Christ Jesus, those things that separate us into categories of otherness. He placed an end to enmity between categories or classes of people in order that we might live as one family, joined together in fellowship with God the Father. The point was peace both with God and one another, no longer acting or responding to others as strangers.
That is what we ...

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