Called to Compassion

Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 – “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.”

This doesn’t come with a promise – it’s something the Christian is called to do as part of the Christian life.

While there isn’t any kind of adjective to prepend to Gospel (e.g., Social Gospel), there is, within the Gospel itself the call that those already transformed by it should work to transform the lives of others with the power and resources provided by the Holy Spirit.

There’s more reading below, but here’s a 2-mt. video about Compassion and the joy of singing along with others:

 

One might ask, “Why do I need to spend my money to help someone?” You don’t need to – you are called to help in whatever way you can. There are plenty of ways to help others – prayer, helping clean houses, sending a letter, helping with a garage sale, calling to see how they’re doing…just to name a few that cost no money and don’t take much time.

But in the Kingdom, the general rule is that we are to be ready to spend money to help others.  In Ephesians 4:28, the last part of the verse says, “that they may have something to share with those in need.” In the verse, it’s directly speaking to those who have been thieves, and they need to correct their behavior by earning an honest living. The principle of the verse is that those who make money need to do what they can to have at least a little extra for those in need.

Ayn Rand was a progressive thinker in American economics. An ideology that she highly disliked was charity. Giving with no expectation of return was, to her, completely foreign to her concepts of economics. Ayn Rand was very capitalistic, but not at all Christian. What’s interesting about her and others who espouse those views of economics is that even they know what charity is – giving what you’ve worked for with no hope of getting something in return. When it comes to making and saving money, charity makes no sense. It is very counter-secular.

Christians need to approach charity that way – we give because people need help. Of course, those who follow Christ often “get” something for giving – joy from knowing that we’ve given; lessons we can teach our children. In many cases, we get a tax deduction (though you can opt out of that). In some very small way, we do give as Christ gave…selflessly, so that others may live and draw closer to God. But we don’t get, and shouldn’t expect to get, anything physical in return – we give without thinking, out of any extra we have. Many people around the world probably won’t have any issue with giving to poverty-stricken children, but they may take issue with us giving so that those children can grow to be men and women of Christ.

Sponsoring a child thorough Compassion is charity. We give out of our abundance to help transform the lives of others. And we need to do this selflessly.  We often use our money to enjoy the nice things in life – good food, decent house, a car, family, times with friends, travel. It’s very easy to get into that groove so much so that it becomes a rut. At that point, we tend to ignore the darker side of life on earth – the devastating effects of sin.

Not one of us gets to dodge sin and its effects, so no one can claim that someone else has a perfect life. But those of us in the “have” category tend to dodge some of the more visible effects of the fallen world (effects such as lack of food or lack of clothing) by both buying more than what we need and thinking that others can obtain those things if they just work hard enough.

In moments of reflection, maybe often when confronted by images on TV or the internet, we know that others suffer. We may turn a blind eye or deaf ear to those images and sound bytes, feeling uncomfortable.

Compassion International seeks to bridge the gap between the world of abundance and the world of lack. They do this by giving those who have extra the opportunity to give to those who lack the basics of life. Each individual who enjoys the basics can help those in poverty travel over that bridge to wholeness.

$38/month is what it takes from you. After that, beyond that, what you give is free. You can write letters, you can pray, you can send coloring pages, you can send photos. Sure, you can give birthday and Christmas money, but that’s not required. Out of your abundance of a little more than a dollar a day, you can change a life.

As we see in the Bible, people tend to listen to spiritual salvation after their physical lives have been provided for. The Christian doesn’t give SO THAT people will become Christians; we give because Christ gave all before any of us gave any. But the unspiritual need to see that the Christian cares for them, for what they know – they know only the cares of the body, and they’re inundated with unanswered questions about the spiritual life.

People are physical and spiritual. Many times throughout Scripture we see God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the people of God first showing others the power and love of God by demonstrating God’s ability to provide for the physical. After they see that we care about their troubles, they can proceed to trust Christ with answers to their spiritual questions.

So whether we seek to show love to the non-Christian or the Christian, we do it the same way – we provide the basics of both the physical and spiritual lives of the other.

Christ has provided each Christian with some kind of abundance. Are you sharing that abundance, even non-monetary, with others?

I encourage you to consider sponsoring a child through Compassion. You may not have the money – if not, then you’re not called to sponsor at this point, since God hasn’t given you the means. For those Christians who have a spare $1/day, it’s something to consider. Christ is the One who calls us to give selflessly, and Compassion is one trusted way to do that.

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Red Noses and True Compassion

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Today – May 26, 2016 – is Red Nose Day in the USA.

It’s a day for Comic Relief to raise money and it does a really good thing by bringing to America’s attention the need to fight child poverty. The money raised goes to, “the Red Nose Day Fund which distributes the money through programs to keep children and young people safe, healthy and educated. “ (from: https://www.rednoseday.com/what-is-red-nose-day).

I’d like to highlight a better alternative to giving to this fund: Compassion International.

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Another aspect of Red Nose Day Fund is this: “vision of a just world, free from poverty” (from: https://www.rednoseday.com/what-is-red-nose-day). Yes, it sounds great. The trouble is that Christians know that this world isn’t going to become just or free from poverty. The poor will be with us always (Mark 14:7).

While many organizations have the heart to feed and educate the poor, without proper long-term goals and values, the money raised and given will only relieve some issues, difficulties, and crises such as disasters and surgeries. But in the long-run, since the poor will be with us, it’s far better to look long-term, as Compassion does.

When you give monthly to Compassion, the money goes to providing a better future specifically for the child who you sponsor. Here are some ways that you get to show love to a child through Compassion. You get to send letters to and receive them from your child (or you can sponsor multiple children!). You can send them birthday and Christmas money, or send money anytime. They, however, don’t get money, but an age, family, and culturally appropriate gift – whoever is in charge of your child’s area (e.g., local pastor) determines what is best for your child. You get to be directly involved in a child’s life!

With a long-term view for each child, we help pave the way for each child we sponsor to have a better future by providing the basics now. That child will grow up, and will prayerfully use the opportunities that he’s been given to live well. But there will still be children after her that will need help.

Compassion operates on hope for the present AND hope for the future. There’s always a child to sponsor, and we need to carry on the hope. Those you help through Compassion aren’t just a multitude – they are children with names, families, and very little help in the present.

On this Red Nose Day, you have a reminder that there really are poverty-stricken children in the world. And you can go to compassion.com and see many children (they have names and faces!) who you can help right away.

Sanity

Chesterton says of the sane man: “His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.”

Christians see just that way – they see both sides. People are mortal, and immortal. There is great good AND great evil. The earth is beautiful, and it’s tragic. One’s loved family member can be loving AND hurtful. Life is enjoyable, and downright drudgery. Youth is great, as is old age; and both are temporary. We can be happy and sad at one and the same time.

We’d like to see and experience just the comfortable points, but there’s more to life than comfort and ease – there’s Jesus’ lordship to ponder. He is Lord over evil, too, and we need to see and experience that. We can’t be conquerors if our only battle is what we should watch and wear.

Saved is Saved

If you were saved from drowning, would you say afterward “It would have been better if you used nicer equipment”?Or if you were pulled from a car wreck, would you say, “It would have been better if you had a PhD”?

Saved is saved.

It’s the same when it comes to spiritual salvation. When Christ saves you, you’re saved – there’s no “extra special” or “better” to it. People want to make salvation “better” by adding translations, special days, calendars, special people groups, degrees, commendations, and ministries. There’s nothing better than salvation, and nothing beyond.

It’s Christ, and Christ alone. There’s no way to extend it, expand it, or enhance it. No understanding of the Old Testament, no inclusion in a group, no special observance, no particular training will make one a better Christian than another. It’s knowing the Christ that makes the Christian.

At Christmas time, celebrating Christ is not made better by presents, trees, and cinnamon wreaths. Those things make our surroundings more comfortable and can promote nicer emotions (depends on why you bought things – to please God? or to please man?). But Christ is pleased only if we’re saved, and we should only be pleased by His work on the cross.

Family time, carols, gift-giving – we should enjoy them all. But is that the basis of my Christmas? If I wouldn’t be joyful and fulfilled just to breathe a prayer of thanks to God the Father for the gift of God the Son, then the carol bells will ring hollow, my tree will not bear fruit, and my songs will only be clamor.

Acorns and Peace

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Verlyn Verbrugge (Chapter 7 Genitive and Dative,Basic of Biblical Greek, William D Mounce) writes:

Peace on earth, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14, KJV).  You have probably all received Christmas cards containing this part of the angels’ song to the shepherds on the fields of Bethlehem.  But most modern translations read differently: “on earth peace to men on whom his [God’s] favor rests” (NIV); “and on earth peace among those whom he [God] favors” (NRSV). The difference between the KJV and the others is the difference between the nominative and the genitive.

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You Had One Job

When I read the account of Adam and Eve, starting in Genesis 3, the phrase that comes to mind is, “You had one job.” Adam’s job was to tend the garden. Eve’s job was to help Adam. And their job as a couple was twofold: have children and take dominion over the earth. So it wasn’t EXACTLY one job, but it’s what I think about.

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