Compassion and companionship

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Afterward, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. Jesus said to him, “ Follow me.” Levi got up, left everything behind, and followed him. Then Levi threw a great banquet for Jesus in his home. A large number of tax collectors and others sat down to eat with them. The Pharisees and their legal experts grumbled against his disciples. They said, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”Jesus answered, “ Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people but sinners to change their hearts and lives.” ~Luke 5: 37-32 (CEB)

“To go where healing and love is needed, and give it in a way in which it can be received, often means acting in the in the teeth of our own interests and preferences. Christ risked his reputation for holiness by healing on the Sabbath; he touched the unclean and dined with the wrong people; he accepted the love and companionship of a sinner (that most wonderful of all remedies for the wounds of sin). He loved with God’s love and so went straight to the point: What can I do to restore my fellow creature and how?” ~From The Light of Christ by Evelyn Underhill

Sometimes I forget just what Jesus gave up coming into the world to save us. More than just coming down from Heaven into this hurtful world, he gave up his reputation, his home, a chance for a family, standing in the community and a place in any local synagogue. Instead he slept where ever he could find a place to lay his head; hung out with less desirable people; and went places that weren’t always safe. We don’t see Jesus hesitating and saying, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this, what would people think?”

Compassion is a gift that Jesus gave to everyone he met. We have just a skeletal view of Jesus’ life before he entered into ministry, but when I think about what compassionate people have in common I can’t help but wonder what Jesus’ life was like before his ministry. Some of the common characteristics of compassionate people often are significant suffering or painful life events of their own, a generous heart, a non-blaming and non-judging mind, a passionate spirit, and a love that embraces the oneness of all creation.

Jesus, being God’s Son probably came to earth already with the qualities of compassion. But I still think that the attributes of his compassion were hard won yet freely given to all. He never held back his compassion from others.

Another gift Jesus gave others was his companionship. With Jesus as a friend people began to realize that they could be forgiven for the lives they had previously lived and could begin a new life because a simple carpenter first loved them. Christ is new life. He came down from Heaven just to show the way.

In Christ I too can think of my old life as dead, the words from the Message translation say it this way, “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.” ~Col 13:3-4 (italics mine)

Out of my thankfulness for Christ’s compassion and companionship I need to in turn show compassion and give companionship to others. Not to make anything of myself, not to say look at how good I am now, but to say instead, if Jesus could love even me, he can love you too!

Heavenly Father, we thank You for sending Your son down from Heaven to personally touch each of our wounds and to spend precious time with every one of us. We thank You for the gift of compassion We thank You companionship you have so freely given to us. Out of the overflow of Your love for us may we, in turn, give of Your compassion and gentle companionship so others may find their way home to You too. Amen.

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