Monday, March 19, 2012

Cause Change- with Compassion

This last Saturday, the youth had a Cause Change event focusing on compassion. Even though I was the one doing the speaking, God messed me up with this message. Here is the written form of the message:
This is your day. This is your opportunity to do the work of God. Don’t miss it. If you do, you don’t get it back. Night is coming. Don’t miss the day. What is the work of God? It is simply to see what Jesus would see if he were looking through your eyes and respond as he would respond.
Now I have a question for you:
What is the difference between love and compassion?
Last month at our Cause Change event, we were challenged to make a change in our lives; to love, and by making that change we could impact people around us. That is why today we are zeroing in on compassion. Compassion is love put into action. Love is seeing what Jesus would see and responding as he would respond.
 I would like to read 2 things written in James.
James 1:27
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
 James 2:17
“faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
 God doesn’t just care about what you do in private; reading your bible, praying, going to church, believing the right things, because none of those things can be fulfilled or useful unless put into action. James says, our faith means nothing unless we do something with it. The love that we have means nothing unless we do something about it. We can truly love people, but that love doesn’t benefit them and doesn’t bring glory to God unless it is shown to them. Our love should move us to action.
I am in the middle of reading a book called “Love Beyond Reason,” and I am going to reference one of the chapters some today. The chapter I am going to reference is called “Love Pays Attention”. It says, “Living in God’s love requires new eyes. We must learn to continually see God’s grace at work all around us.” You see if we really recognized all that God is doing and has done in all the things around us, we wouldn’t be able to help ourselves from walking in love. God pays attention to the details, he pays attention to us. In the same way, we should pay attention to him, to what he is doing, and to people; that is part of love. One of the great miracles of life is that God pays attention to us.
 John 9 tells the story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind on the Sabbath, which was considered to be breaking the Sabbath. But Jesus cared more about putting his faith into action, he cared more about that man who had been ignored all his life, than any religious rules.
John 9 says:
“As he (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth.”
It says that Jesus saw this man, he noticed him. Why is that is special? It’s special because this man had lived his whole life blind, his whole life begging to survive, and his whole life being ignored. How many of you have seen people on the side of the road begging for money? Most of the time people intentionally ignore them, try to block them out and pretend they’re not there. That is how this blind man had been treated his whole life.
 Read verses 2-10
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.  “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.
Verse 2 the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Why did  they ask that? During that time, there were some people who believed that a person’s sin transferred to their children or if a women sins while she is pregnant that the baby is sinful as well. The disciples looked at the blind man, but didn’t see what Jesus saw. They saw an object  for an interesting theological discussion about whether sin is transferred to a person’s child or not. Their seeing didn’t draw them to the man himself. We have to change the way we see things, the way we see people. Even people who had known this blind man his entire life, they were his neighbors, people who passed him every day as he was begging on the side of the road, didn’t recognize him when he received his sight. Some thought it might be him and others denied it was the same man. They did not see, but Jesus saw him and was moved.
Someone once asked Mother Teresa what she saw as she walked the streets of Calcutta, India, where the poorest of the poor lived; what she saw when she looked at the orphans, the starving, the dying, This is what she said: “I see Jesus in a distressing disguise.”
Matthew 25:34-40 says:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Hebrews 13:1-3 says:
 Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
 We have to see people the way God sees them and have a love that is moved to action, to live with compassion. In the book I am referencing, it says, “The work of love is the work of paying attention. Love notices. Love listens. Love remembers.” “If you want to do the work of God, pay attention to people. Notice them. Especially notice the people nobody else notices. When you pay attention to someone, when you focus totally on them, you say, “You are the most important thing in my world right now.””
Who are some people that we know are ignored?
What is different between the way we see people and the way God sees people?
What are some things we have to overcome in order to see people as God sees them?
 I want to leave you with what I began with:
This is your day. This is your opportunity to do the work of God. Don’t miss it. If you do, you don’t get it back. Night is coming. Don’t miss the day. What is the work of God? It is simply to see what Jesus would see if he were looking through your eyes and respond as he would respond.

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