written by Elizabeth Curran Painting by Sean Barton
The few Christians I did feel comfortable approaching, seemed to not be the ones who knew every bible verse about how much God hates sin. Instead, they were quick to recite every bible verse about how much God loves sinners. And boy, did it show in their words and actions. There was a glow around them, something special. Somehow they rejected sin but embraced those who were struggling with it.
At the time, I was broken and hurting; deceived by all the lies I had been believing. I was hungry for truth. These few Christians looked me right in the eye, and told me God loved me. Not once did they remind me that God hates sin. I believe this is how Jesus calls us to act towards others. “Sinners” include everyone. I believe repentance (or turning from sin) is a huge part of following Christ, but it is God’s spirit that enables you to turn from sin. I knew God hated sin. I’d been hearing that all my life. But I was at that point where I needed the tenderness of Jesus, not the harshness of the law.
God’s spirit is a spirit of love. And it’s not Christians that save people, it’s Jesus. Knowing that, I’m constantly reminded I still need Jesus each day, just as much as I did when I first gave my life to Him. I will need Jesus 40 years from now just as much as I do now. The homeless man sitting on the curb needs Jesus, just as much as the president of a fortune 500 company does. Movie stars need Jesus, just as much as Mother Theresa did each day. Thousands of children yet to be born will need Jesus. No matter what, we all, will always, need Christ.
So, realizing that, how can we NOT act in a way that reflects anything but compassion? Seeing that we all share this common need; this same Jesus shaped hole in our spirits needing to be filled. What’s the point of calling ourselves Christians if we don’t acknowledge that God is God, and we are not? I think we sometimes get so sucked into our own cultural feuds or ideological debates that we fail to see the SIMPLICITY of the Gospel.
Compassion means: to suffer with. Is it possible to see someone who does not know Christ, and then to look back at when we too didn’t know Christ? Remember that emptiness and that dull ache that we tried to medicate with thousands of other things? Instead, I we’re sometimes tempted to throw some of our own prerequisites into the beautiful gift God has given to us.
Perhaps we’re bored? Maybe we feel that arguing about theology is more important than loving the lost, lonely, and forgotten? Or maybe we’re afraid that if we use the words “grace” and “love” and “freedom” too much, people will run wild with sin. Whatever the reason is, I hope Jesus reveals to you specifically His compassionate heart towards you, and his furious desire for you to live in union with Him. That He will paint you a picture of His love as a gift to receive, but also to freely give. That is the only way compassion will fill YOUR heart. I pray that the next time you see someone sin, Jesus reminds of your own sin, and how He saved you (and continues to love you) anyway.