Blog from Kristy Engel (04.01.21)

Compassion

Galatians 5:22-23 says, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”

I suspect that, if you have spent much time in church, this verse is familiar to you. I have seen pictures, needlepoints, and other home goods with these verses printed upon them. I guess it is because we want to remember these words as a hope for what we could attain or maybe what we wish could change in our lives.

I wish I actually saw more of this lived out in our world. As of 2019, there are approximately 2.5 billion people in the world calling themselves Christian. And yet, it seems that our culture is full of hate, sadness, pain, impatience, meanness, hoarding, doubt, aggression and gluttony. Not exactly what we are called to be in Galatians, is it?

I have tried to understand why Christians, who proclaim love and hope, live in hatred and fear so often. Why do we (and I include myself in this at times) listen to any voice other than God’s? Why do we lean into believing the worst and not the best in others? Why do we accept painful, hateful, opposing rhetoric from Christian leaders…often lifting their words higher than the Word of God?

 I don’t have an answer, but I do have a challenge for you.

 Will you challenge yourself to see good in people before you assume the bad?

 Will you err on the side of compassion before you walk away or ignore a need?

Will you hold out a hand, lend an ear or offer a kind word before ignoring or dismissing the pain you see around you?

Will you choose to be more patient and loving, even if you don’t agree with someone?

Will you ask yourself what God’s truth is, instead of swallowing the words of someone who is obviously NOT God?

For the last few years, I have to admit I’ve been losing faith in who we claim to be as Christians (in general). Yes, I see the random few who continue to make sacrifices for the good of others, who go against the flow (often being chastened by other well-meaning but fearful Christians). I want to see more of those folks. The ones who listen first to God and then MAYBE to others. The ones whose hearts are breaking for the hurt and pain in the world. The ones who remove boundaries instead of building them. 

It doesn’t take much to see suffering in our world, today. Between the pandemic, politics, natural disasters, famine, collapsing economies, injustice and misinformation, our world can feel pretty bleak.

Here’s what I see, though, when I really look hard: hope and love breaking through the cracks. I see strangers helping each other. I see people sacrificing everything to protect another person. I see the possibilities when enemies sit down together and share a meal. I see what could be if we would not just say the words in Galatians but actually try to live them.

Hope is alive.

Love is alive.

Jesus lives.

Let’s try to live as if we believe and know this.

Our world would drastically change if we could do this one thing.