February 17th to the 24th is designated as the Week of Compassion. The Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This week seeks to equip and empower disciples to alleviate the suffering of others through disaster response, humanitarian aid, sustainable development, and the promotion of mission opportunities.
We are all called to be compassionate as disciples. Compassion is the feeling of a deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is hurting, in pain, or has misfortune and is accompanied by a strong desire to help the suffering. Jesus Christ is the greatest example of someone with true compassion. Not only did Jesus have compassion and heal people from physical suffering, he also showed the greatest compassion for mankind
when he died on the cross for our sins.
Acts of compassion are what Christians do to help when they meet anyone who is hungry, thirsty, mourning, or sick. Acts of compassion are how Christians obey Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Acts of compassion put into action what you say you feel and believe about God. Acts of compassion reveal that loving the way God loves is more about what we do than how we feel.
Jesus challenges our conventional notion of love as being feelings of deep affection for people who love us in return in Matthew 5:43-48:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that
you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus tells us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Love is much more about what you do, and don’t do, than it is how you feel. When you participate in acts of compassion with people who may not be able to thank you, or acknowledge what you are doing, then you are loving like Jesus loves us.
Jesus identifies himself with people who are poor, sick, and prisoners. What this means of us today is that when you bring food to a hungry person, when you give a drink of water to someone who is thirsty, when you give clothing to a poor mother, when you visit someone who is sick, when you help someone you don’t even know through the week of compassion offering, you meet Jesus face to face. Love grows in your heart when you regularly go into the world to meet Jesus among those who need some compassion.
Jason Chuma, Worship Chair