Living the Compassion of Jesus In 2018
Get indignant and act.
Have your righteous anger move you to action.
Find the spaces where what is is not what should be - and do something about it.
That is the compassion of Jesus.
And that has been the focus of our conversation for the last several weeks of 2017.
We have looked at what the compassion of Jesus is (definition: "to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion.") and how we are to enact it out in our own lives (Indignation + Action = Compassion of Jesus). You can catch up on the previous posts in this series on the compassion of Jesus here: Compassion Post #1 and Compassion Post #2.
As we wrap up 2017 and prepare to step into the new year, I think it's time to make this conversation very practical. As we've mentioned previously, compassion is only Christ-like if it is action-oriented.
So let's talk about ways we can each live out the compassion of Jesus in 2018 now that we have established what the DNA of the compassion of Jesus consists of.
Here are 7 practical ways to live out the compassion of Jesus in 2018:
- Make Space. Jesus lived out compassion with those who needed it. Those on the margins, forgotten by society, and ignored by religion. He helped those in need, because He lived life with those in need. If you want to live out the compassion of Jesus, you need to commit to making space to be uncomfortable, to be interrupted, and to spend substantial time with people who are not like you. By living life with those who are marginalized, you will begin to uncover the injustices they are faced with - injustices you might be called by God to address. ACTION STEP: Commit to volunteering for 3 months at a homeless center. (Bonus: Eat meals with the residents and get to know their life stories.)
- Be Intentional With Your Time. Discipleship (Christ-centered mentorship) is an undeniably important component to being a follower of Jesus. And as we've previously mentioned, being a follower of Jesus requires significant investments of time into the lives of others. It is only through deep, quality relationships that we are able to learn more about others - and their Creator. And mentoring others is a great way to build those relationships! My relationship with my middle school mentee has significantly impacted my walk with Jesus, my view on public policy, and my love of soccer. That is the beauty of discipleship and mentoring - it impacts everyone involved! ACTION STEP: Meet with a local church/non-profit leader to learn more about mentoring opportunities in your community - for youth or adults.
- Get Global-Minded. There are a number of injustices present in your surrounding community and city. Yet innocent individuals around the world are faced with countless injustices in innumerable forms and situations. Take it upon yourself to learn more about the global injustices, how they are affecting the marginalized around the world, how they might be affecting the marginalized near you, and what you can do to make an impact against such brokenness. Learn from top-notch international organizations such as: International Justice Mission, World Vision, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and Compassion International. Get involved with international-level justice fighters by sponsoring a child, blogging on behalf of their work, or advocating against injustices. ACTION STEP: Plan to participate (with your local church) in Freedom Sunday on September 23, 2018.
- Live A Matthew 25 Life. In the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew in the Bible, we are told that the true followers of Christ live this type of life: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:35-36) I don't think there is much I can add onto this idea - followers of Christ feed, quench, house, clothe, heal, and visit those on the margins. ACTION STEP: Visit someone who is in prison - whether someone you know or through a prison ministry in your area.
- Fight Substance Abuse. I'm going to share a bit of my personal bias here, but I believe substance abuse is one of the most heinous injustices in the world and the root of so much crime, brokenness, and loss of life. You can do something about the epidemic of substance abuse (and subsequent deaths). Investigate and learn about the issue of substance abuse in your neighborhood. And then you can begin to advocate for drug policy reform in your city and state. Or you can volunteer and donate to homeless centers and rehabilitation ministries. One option I would highly recommend: get involved as a volunteer in a local Celebrate Recovery program. (Or start one if your local community doesn't have one yet!) ACTION STEP: Meet with local law enforcement to learn about what substance abuse looks like in your city/town.
- Build Strength Through Numbers. An important element to the compassion of Jesus is that it is not lived out in isolation. The compassion of Jesus is lived out for others, with others. We do not need to attempt this alone. We can make a greater impact together. One example of this is a central Indiana town where the local churches all worked together this Thanksgiving to provide Thanksgiving meal "ingredients" to local residents in need. Each church collected one particular item (ex. boxes of stuffing or mashed potatoes) and then combined them together so that every recipient family received a box with multiple items to make their own Thanksgiving meal. ACTION STEP: Bring together others in your community (individuals, organizations, businesses) to brainstorm partnership opportunities throughout this next year.
- Spread Shalom. The Church global is obedient to God's call for us when we are a healthy local church. Change is made on a local level. (Side note: this may apply to politics as well.) As we seek to bring hope and peace (shalom) to our world - it starts with our local neighborhoods. This can be done through: throwing a block party with neighbors, coordinating a street clean-up, have barbecues in your front yard, get involved in your neighborhood association, or do prayer walks around your neighborhood with members of your church. Find creative ways to pioneer local volunteerism in your local church. As we become better neighbors, we will begin to unleash peace in our communities. ACTION STEP: Invite friends over to your house, have a cookout in your front yard, and invite neighbors who walk by to join the fun.
These seven ideas are meant to spur you towards uncovering how you can best live out the compassion of Jesus in your own context. It will - it must - look different in every local community. We cannot "copy & paste" the compassion of Jesus across cultures or geography. And that is the beauty of the Good News of Jesus and the compassion He calls us to live out in our lives - it is relevant and meaningful in every community and context.
My hope for you in 2018 is that you will take a few steps in the direction of deepening your Christ-like compassion. That you will do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. And that you will do it together with others.
Here are the seven action steps again as a reminder. In 2018:
- Commit to volunteering for 3 months at a homeless center. (Bonus: Eat meals with the residents and get to know their life stories.)
- Meet with a local church/non-profit leader to learn more about mentoring opportunities in your community - for youth or adults.
- Plan to participate (with your local church) in Freedom Sunday on September 23, 2018.
- Visit someone who is in prison - whether someone you know or through a prison ministry in your area.
- Meet with local law enforcement to learn about what substance abuse looks like in your city/town.
- Bring together others in your community (individuals, organizations, businesses) to brainstorm partnership opportunities throughout this next year.
- Invite friends over to your house, have a cookout in your front yard, and invite neighbors who walk by to join the fun.
By living out the compassion of Jesus together we can create a better tomorrow for all of us.
How are you planning on living out compassion in 2018? What do you think of the 7 idea-starters above? Comment below with your thoughts and plans!
In 2018, let's get indignant.