I preached a really difficult passage yesterday at my fantastic church. We are preaching through Lamentations and I got to preach the second Lament. The chapter speaks a lot to sin, suffering, God’s wrath, and man’s response. There was one thing God really spoke to me about in my prep time that simply couldn’t make it into the sermon so I thought I would address it here.
Christians can be an extremely compassionate bunch. Thankfully, I have witnessed great acts of compassion from people in my current church and from experiences with Christians in many places. I truly don’t believe there is a more compassionate people in the world than evangelical Christians.
With that said, I have noticed a disturbing trend among Christians. On a consistent basis I believe our compassion is falling short.
In Lamentations 2, Jeremiah is a weeping wreck over the suffering over his people. This isn’t because something unjust is happening, but because he knew it was the sin of his own people that brought on their suffering. He knew that Israel was getting exactly what they deserved, yet he was still a weeping mess over how his people were suffering.
How is it that Christian compassion often falls short today? We are very quick to show compassion when people have been unjustly wronged and sinned against. We are fantastic at showing compassion in these times.
Where I believe Christians today can often times fall short of showing true Christ-like compassion is when people are suffering due to their own sins and choices. It is rather easy to show compassion to people that are suffering and haven’t done anything wrong themselves. It is a lot harder to show compassion to people who brought on their own suffering with sin and bad choices.
Where do I see this in Christianity today? One example would be the poor. When I talk with Christians today there is a disturbing trend to look down at the poor with the attitude that “they did it to themselves.” Somehow, many Christians think that is reason enough to not show compassion towards them.
The Prophet Jeremiah would have nothing to do with this type of attitude. For him it didn’t matter why his people were suffering. He loved his people and his compassion wasn’t bound on the circumstances that got his people where they were.
Thankfully, Jesus approaches it the same way Jeremiah does. All of us were at one time enemies of God, deserving of wrath, and we got that way because of sins we chose. We put ourselves in that situation. Yet, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. There isn’t a person on the planet undeserving of hell because of their sin. Like some of the poor, “we did it to ourselves.” Yet, that did not stop Jesus from compassion and bearing the wrath of God on our behalf.
Christians, let’s not allow our compassion to fall short. When people are suffering, hurting, and in need the first question shouldn’t be, “How did you get here?” The first question should be, “How can I help?”