Hi welcome to redeem the commute, I’m Ryan your host of the daily challenges. Today’s Tuesday is the day we explore in the Bible our topic for the week and this week we’ve been talking about how following Jesus resets our views of compassion and service to others. We saw yesterday how people can show compassion for a lot of wrong reasons. They can be doing it to increase their profile and image. They can be doing it just to get volunteer hours. They can be doing it to somehow earn a reward from God or good karma. Whatever it might be, these are selfish reasons to do something that would otherwise have been selfless. A true act of compassion is something selfless and sacrificing. When we gain from that it ceases to really be compassionate and is actually about showing compassion to ourselves.
We’re finding ways to serve ourselves by serving others. Followers of Jesus aren’t meant to benefit themselves from serving and caring for others, are they supposed to do it and if so why? There was an article I saw making the rounds on Facebook a couple weeks ago from the Onion a satirical news source. The article was headlined Local Church full of Brainwashed Idiots Feeds Town Poor Every Week. Sources confirmed today that the brainwashed morons at First Baptist Assembly of Christ all of whom blindly accept whatever simplistic fairytales are fed to them volunteer each Wednesday night to provide meals to impoverished members of the community.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of people in town who have fallen on hard times and are unable to afford to put food on the table so we try to help out as best we can.” said 48-year-old Kerri Bellamy, one of the mindless sheep who adheres to a backward ideology and is incapable of thinking for herself, while spooning out homemade shepherd’s pie to a line of poor and homeless individuals. At press time, the brainless, unthinking lemmings had donated winter clothing they no longer wore to several needy families and still hadn’t opened their eyes to reality.
Well the Onion is a source of satirical news but as satire works it always reveals something that’s somewhat true. Here we have an article that actually does a really good job of pointing out that those who appose Christianity for whatever intellectual reasons they might have can often do it without much compassion. I have a hard time wrestling with the fact that those who they think believe something untrue find that it drives them to great acts of service and compassion for others. A whole concept of modern hospitals has arisen from the church. Many schools have their origin in the Christian church.
We can go through many of the ways that our society particularly western society cares for the poor and needy and although it’s managed by our government today or it’s managed by a nonprofit organizations without explicit Christian connections very often the very notion of serving the poor and needy in our culture has come from Christian faith. It’s easy for opponents of Christianity to attack a few easy targets especially distant ones like crusades hundreds of years ago or religious persecution that may happened in places far away around the world. In reality there are millions of Christians every day simply serving the poor and needy in their community, giving up high paying jobs to go and work for a nonprofit.
Flying halfway around the world to help build homes and schools, the list could go on but there is something to Christian faith that has driven people to acts of service and compassion even when there is nothing in it for them. This isn’t a new thing either, hundreds, thousands of years ago we can find Christians serving others even at their own expense. In some of the earliest days of the Christian church there was a plague that hit Rome and one early historian and Christian bishop Eusebius wrote the following about how the Christians acted in that community. “All day long, some of them, (the Christians) tended to the dying and their burial; countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.”
You can see how even in its earliest days followers of Jesus were those who stayed when others fled. In those days if you could flee the city during hardship whether it was a famine or a plague or otherwise, you could get out of the city and fend for yourself you did. If you had the resources to do that you took advantage, yet it seems to have been the Christians who were remarkable for having stayed behind to care for those who were sick even if it meant they were going to become sick themselves. Why would people be so sacrificial? What model had they seen? What motivation did they have? Well, I think we can find it in the words of Jesus.
Here’s what Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” The king will answer them, “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
What Jesus has done in that teaching is he’s reset our view of ourselves and others. Imagine if a plague hit our community, others would suddenly become a risk to our health and well being. Think back to when [inaudible 00:06:19] happened, suddenly we started to see each other differently. Others were potential risks, they might get us sick, they might kill us. People stayed home, they got out of town if they could. I remember traveling during that time and people being afraid of me because I was Canadian.
It was a time when humans became a risk and that’s a time for followers of Jesus to overcome that risk and to say you know what we still need to serve one another. Be careful, take the necessary precautions but we’ll do what we need to do. At the time I was a volunteer paramedic and I remember the fear that struck many of us and yet we felt we still needed to do our jobs. Followers of Jesus are meant to be the same. We’re meant to continue doing our jobs of serving others as if they are Jesus Christ himself simply because it’s what followers of Jesus do even when it’s a great risk to ourselves, even when it’s a sacrifice, even when it calls for us to give more then we think we can handle. What Jesus has done is he’s reset our view of ourselves and others. Others have shifted from being risks to opportunities.
We shifted from being victims to being potential hands and feet of Jesus serving others whom he loves as well. I’ve got a question for you to think about today.
Question: Who are you afraid to help? Who do you think is a risky person to help? How does following Jesus transform them from a risk to an opportunity to serve in Christ’s name?
I hope you share this discussion with somebody else you know, somebody from the train or the bus from work or from your neighborhood, just somebody you know who can watch the videos on the same days as you and whenever you’re together you can discuss.
We’ve got a growing network of these small groups and please let me know if you’re discussing these challenges regularly with others, I’d love to hear about your group and what you’ve been discussing. Have a great one, I’ll see you tomorrow and don’t forget we’re reading the Bible in sync as community as well. See our website or app to see today’s Bible reading, bye for now.