My pastor has been doing this amazing series entitled Hiking the Trail: Matthew Fits Our Feet for Discipleship. His message today was called "The Harvest is Plentiful." He gave us some challenges as to what it means to follow Christ. My favorite one of the morning was "To follow Christ is to recognize and eventually claim his gut-level ache (compassion) for people, especially those in danger." The ache of compassion that God has for his people truly is an ache that comes from deep within. The compassion of God does not say "oh wow that's terrible - let me help you so long as it's convenient for me." It instead says "I not only see and reconize that you are hurting, I feel your pain and am choosing to live life beside you, no matter the cost." God aches deep within for his people and has called us to do the same. "If mercy and compassion aren't a part of your make-up of following Christ, then you haven't been following Christ." To follow Christ is to love. To love as Christ is to live. To live as Christ is to give. We have been singing a song entiteld Wounded World - the lyrics are below:
Wounded world that cries for healing
Here we hold each other’s pain,
Wounded systems, bruised and bleeding
Bear the load, the scars of strain;
Dollars ration our compassion,
Hard decisions rule the day,
Jesus of the healing Spirit,
Free us to another way!
Through our nation’s spent frustration,
Through the corridors of stress
May there move a kindlier wisdom
All may feel, and all may bless;
Tax and tithe are for a purpose
Shared to shield the poor and weak;
Past the symptoms of our sickness
Let the voice of justice speak.
Honor those whose loving spirit
Nurses hope, restores and heals,
Towel and basin used in service
Like the Christ who comes and kneels;
In the tending, in the mending
May we see the right and fair,
In our common quest for wholeness
Heal each other by our care.
This song really speaks to my heart because this topic is so near to my heart. My heart beats for the ministry to the broken. It is my prayer that God will shape and form me into a person who has claimed his gut-level ache and lives life the way He has called me to live. I want to feel the pain of those who are broken and hurting and live life alongside them. To follow Christ is to do just that - follow in his footsteps. I pray that He will give me eyes that see the world as He does, arms to embrace others with His love, and hands to reach out to those in need, but most of all I pray He gives me a heart that beats with the same ache and compassion He has.