#6 Decline of compassion
I remember being in Brazil and chatting to a wealthy Christian friend of mine and asked him about the poverty all around us. In the region of Brazil where I was living you couldn’t go out without being pressed right up against abject poverty and misery all around you.
People begging, people holding terrible wounded and diseased body parts desperate for money. Stopping at ANY traffic light you are approached by at least 2 street sellers whilst you watch a street performer juggling or spinning a plate for money at the traffic light. (Bit of a different Brazil than the postcards!)
This mate of mine looked me in the eye with a hint of remorse and said ‘mate, to be honest I just don t see them anymore.’
Whilst I was shocked, I also could start to understand how this guy had arrived at this conclusion. There was just a huge disconnect in how he could help, having grown up around this his whole life it no longer seemed like something to be fixed, so it was filtered out. Compassion had almost gone, and a sense of concern for the needs of those around had gradually been dissolved.
But this is the obvious way in which we can sense or not sense compassion, I think they Bible has another way of seeing it. But first there was a great moment in the film Superman returns between Lois and Superman. Superman takes Lois into space and asks her this:
Superman: Listen; what do you hear?
Lois Lane: Nothing.
Superman: I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.
Nice one superman but Jesus did it better: ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ Matthew 9:36
We might look out and see comfortable people, lives seem to be in order with a new car on the drive and two holidays a year. But the thing is Jesus saw though all of that veneer! A spiritual condition and spiritual need that the Bible identifies as sin. This may seems bit weird but I think when we look out we don’t have much compassion that moves us to pray in this way because we don’t see the same thing. We see stuff that indicates someone who isn’t in need (materially) so no compassion for the eternal path they are on! Does that fit?
I am doing it all the time, but the truth is without Jesus there is spiritual poverty and that needs to be seen, embraced and moved a heart of compassion for the church to respond.