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Becoming a Connected and Compassionate Community

Updated: Aug 4, 2023


This might well be one of the most significant ways for us to reach out to others, not only within the community of faith, but everywhere. I would suggest that in this time when the Church needs to rediscover its missional "mojo", these anointed words of the Apostle Paul could provide one of the greatest keys. It follows his exhortation to bless (not curse) those who persecute us, those who treat us unjustly. That in itself, would also make such a difference and reminds me of something shared last Sunday morning about the call to be "kind", for it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (see Rom 2:4) .. wow, God is kind .. and good!


For us to truly feel one another's joy and pain, calls for a number of things in us. A desire to connect deeply with some, for one thing. Then a willingness to 'pay' the cost of caring for others, the emotional cost of entering into the space of another's feelings, their reality, simply to be present to them and for them. This represents one of the most selfless and therefore loving things that we can do. But it also is something that we must choose to embrace, perhaps even learn, to open our hearts to a more intimate connection, to know and be known. This also requires us to be willing to "be with" people, to ask good questions to better know them, but also to be willing to more vulnerably share ourselves.



What often marked out Jesus' ministry and gave him greater authority to speak to people, was his compassion, literally his willingness to "suffer with" them. There is that same sense of feeling with people, rejoicing and mourning, connecting with the things that were going on in their lives right now. This is a good picture of what I believe will give us authority to speak into people's lives, the fact that we are not trying to fix them, but that we genuinely care for their situations. We do that through rejoicing with them over what excites them, and mourning with them over their struggles and pain.


Jesus knew people also needed truth, needed to be taught this truth, which suggests that people who are hurting need more than comfort. We must not overlook this need however and Paul reminds us to comfort one another with the comfort we have received from the God of all comfort (see 2 Cor 1:3-4). But there also comes a time to help orient people towards the bigger story of who God is and what His kingdom represents to them. That was why Jesus went on to teach them as well as show compassion.


This idea of "feeling with" another does not come easily to everyone, especially in my experience, to us men. But not exclusively so. In my own experience, it was not something I learned growing up, it was not modeled to me in a healthy way, nor was it nurtured in me. It led to challenges for me to be able to connect deeply with others, through means other than just doing things for them. They key to my own growth has been to better understand, connect with and share my own painful experiences so that I can receive comfort and healing. I have known this through the Holy Spirit's revelation directly but also through human relationships, especially with Carol. There is even brain science today that helps us see how the physiology of the brain grows and develops through these compassionate experiences.



The video clip above from the Skit Guys is an excellent example to us all to help us to find better ways to share compassionately with one another, to mourn with those who mourn. Let us continue to become a people where it is encouraged to be real (even though a little scary), but where we are not left alone in our pain ... or our joy for that matter!


With love and prayers,

Mike.

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