Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I've just walked past nine booths lined up on either side of me displaying the pictures of hungry, dirty children with the most beautiful eyes and smiles you could ever hope to see.
In our marketing culture of small payment plans, redit lines, sex appeal and sales that draw us in, at the heart of it all is our culture. We are a culture that spends. We buy comfort, love, health, laughs, counseling sessions and new movies. Hand-in-hand with every taste or preference you have is an opportunity to serve or an outreach to join with. If you want to build a well, adopt a child, buy incredible photographs to support a given cause or travel the world in service, the opportunities are there. On this planet with networking now so extensive I can identify with someone four states away who just posted an update about doing their taxes at the last second possible just like I did, there is literally a limitless, infinite number of available chances to serve or give.
We pull up in our Buick Rendezevous careful to park with an even space nest to both sides of the vehicle, get out and lock it with the push of a button, then go inside to get our badge for the week having already registered online.
We walk by the ministry tables and smile courteously, making a mental note to avoid that section of the conferencing area from now on. I stood and watched over lunch, and so, so many people reacted that way.
Jesus said "there will always be the poor." This may or may not surprise you, but He was speaking the truth. I contend, however, that He was not providing an escape route. We are not called to serve everyone in the world tirelessly and care about every single outreach, He was also clear about that. We are given specific gifts, passions, intuitions and abilities. But what Jesus did say, and what I saw a startling lack of, is compassion.
"Caring" and "getting involved" are not synonymous with compassion. Compassion is sincere, scriptural, and an aspect of our faith that is both unique and powerful. What does it look like to be compassionate, to have compassion for those who hunger for and need it more than a well, medical help or an education?
Every single answer to life as we need is found in the bible, and we have it as an open book to refer to as often as we like, no holds barred. That should be where we learn to sift through hundreds of organizations, thousands of people passionate about them, and the millions of needs that are represented. What is it that God is calling me to, how can I encourage these people and what they do? How can I use the gifts I've been given for His glory and learn how to become more compassionate and full of grace?
I saw many people give the booths they walked by the same look I imagine they give homeless people asking for a dollar, and it was so apparent the difference between what a hardened heart looks like and what compassion comes across as. A hardened heart shuts out each booth and makes the person feel a slight twinge of guilt as they walk by and later push a button to unlock their 2009 SUV. A compassionate heart sees the unity in Jesus through grace and is open and honest as they interact with the individuals who are so drawn to those needs, joining them in prayer and through fellowship with the Holy Spirit whether or not they adopt a child for $38.00 a month.

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