Compassion – Bridging the Divide

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At this moment in time, under a pandemic and racial unrest, America is divided as never before. Alarmists point to Covid-19 cases peaking in the south and southwest United States as the impetus to lockdown once more, while others say the numbers are exaggerated and the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, so let’s keep reopening the economy and open the schools. It seems like everyone has locked into totally opposite states of being: liberal vs. conservative; pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump; Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter; law and order vs. defund the police; masks vs. no masks; the economy vs. health.

To make matters worse, many of those on each side of these issues are angry and hostile. But what each side needs to understand is that there are no perfect solutions in a fallen world of good and evil. The only perfect solution is when Jesus returns to rule and reign for a thousand years over a new or restored earth (see Revelation 20-21). But until then, what do we do?

First and foremost, everyone needs to get off their high horses and realize that we are all sinners, and we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 8:23) James 2:10  tells us that if we commit one sin it as though we’ve broken them all. And James also tells us in 4:17 that, “to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” So, indeed, as the Scriptures tell us in several places, no one is righteous, no not one. (see Romans 3:10) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1:8)

Just as no one is righteous, no one of us is perfectly right. But pride, in the form of “I’m right and you’re wrong,” has locked people into entrenched positions that are maintained with anger and hostility. Is this the way Jesus wants us to act? We are supposed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and esteem others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) I don’t see a lot of that happening right now. Instead, people are attacking one another over face masks, and peaceful protests have turned violent.

Many Christians today justify their anger, their words and their actions because they are trying to prevent the evil one-world-government and the ‘mark of the beast’ from coming into fruition. But the Bible says all this will happen, regardless of what we do or don’t do. In fact, it’s part of God’s plan of allowing transgressors to reach their fulness (Daniel 8:23), after which Jesus destroys this earth and brings forth a new earth and a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21). In essence, this comes down to our opposing God in our efforts to prevent these things from happening. Opposing God is never a good place to be.

The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Constant, daily, nagging anger opens you up to attacks from Satan. Not only that, but it’s a terrible witness for Christ Jesus. When asked what the most important commandments were, Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31) And then he used the example of the Good Samaritan to essentially define our neighbor as being everyone.

Jesus took it a step further when He said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44) You can’t love and hate at the same time, nor can you bless and do good when you are angry and spiteful.

The missing ingredient in the boiling cauldron of hostility is compassion. Things have gotten so bad that love alone is not enough. Compassion is love in action and deed. When Jesus saw that the multitude had followed him out into the wilderness where there were no convenience stores anywhere in sight, He had compassion upon them and turned the five loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed five thousand. He did that knowing that many of them would soon turn away from Him when He proclaimed that He was the bread of life and the living water (John 6:5).

It’s no longer just enough to love our neighbor and our enemy. This nation, indeed the entire world, is in need of compassionate acts that put faith and love into action. Otherwise, James tells us that our faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) Many people are praying for a spiritual awakening, for revival to break out but it won’t do so in the midst of all this anger and hate. There will be no revival unless Christians love their enemies, bless them and do good to them.

We know from the Bible that the end-times will bring about pestilence (e.g. the coronavirus), economic devastation, increased hostility and murder, and a one-world government headed up by the anti-Christ and the False Prophet Revelation 13:1–4) who will war against the saints and overcome them (v7) and impose the ‘mark of the beast’ in order to buy or sell, that is, in order to survive. (13:16-19, 14:9-11)

Our job is not to prevent the ‘mark of the beast’ from happening, but to warn and educate people by speaking the truth in love, not in anger or hate. Yes, the wearing of masks now can condition people to be more receptive to accepting the ‘mark of the beast’ when it comes, but people don’t understand where all the animosity is coming from right now. Instead of being attacked, they need to be loved into the kingdom through compassion as Jude,, the brother of Jesus, exhorts us to do: “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” (Jude 1:22)

It is compassion that will make all the difference in saving souls – which is our primary job during the end-times. This is what Jude means when he exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith.” In today’s language, the word contend conjures up images of arguing and fighting, hostile images. But that’s not what the underlying Greek word means. It is the only time this combination of two Greek words appears in the Bible. It means to fight for something, not against someone. To speak the truth under adversity, but always with love and compassion.

It is more than coincidence that the small book of Jude comes right before the Book of Revelation. The end-times are a time of fear, which many people counter with anger and hostility. But it is perfect love that casts out fear. (1John 4:18) Anger and hostility only foster more anger and hostility. We can use the fear in unbelievers during these difficult days and the even more difficult days to come, in order to snatch them out of the fire through love and compassion, as Jude notes in verse 23 where he also tells to hate the garment (i.e. sin), not the person.

Compassion enables us to be an encourager instead of a divider, as the Apostle Paul exhorted in Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV): “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”

Even if others don’t respond to our compassionate efforts, we will be shining the light of Jesus into their lives and living out the exhortation from Peter 3:9-11 (NIV), “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

So, as the end-days roll on and life gets worse and worse and Christians get persecuted all the more, will you be sinking into the boiling cauldron of anger and hate? Or will you still stand up for Jesus and shine forth His light of love and compassion?

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