Showing Compassion in the Nasty Public World

Good Samaritan

I am a pastor with nine kids and a flock of about 14 households to care for, which includes over sixty people. I have made many excuses over the years for not being involved with or caring for people outside my family and church.  But the world doesn’t just need fathers at home and fathers in the church the world needs fathers in the city gates. Our communities need men who care about the community, who will preach to her, live truth in front of her, call her leaders to walk in the truth, care for her physical needs, and love her. But too many Christians, especially conservative ones, are rarely involved in their community. Pastor Tim Bayly’s chapter “City Fathers” in his book Daddy Tried was convicting on this issue. Here is a section where he sweeps away the excuses we make for not caring for those in our community.

In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus introduced to a godly city father. I’m sure you know the story. The man really loved his fellow man, the man who as a good father, even to a stranger in his community, was the man who helped him. And I’m sure you remember the uncaring men who did not stop to help their brother in need. What sorts of excuses might we make if we came across a man left for dead by thieves today.

-Uh, right Jesus; we should love our neighbor as ourselves. But you know, right now I’m working on loving myself. And you know, it’s hard work! I grew up in a broken home…

-You know what Jesus? My parents never took me to church or Sunday school. I grew up in a single parent home. Men came and went every couple of months and “God” was  curse word, so I am trying to change all that in my home. We have family devotions every morning, we’re part of a family-centered church and we homeschool. I run my own business, so between family dinner and homeschooling and co-op and flute and piano lesson and gymnastics and soccer and church and my business, I pretty much fall into bed every night…

-We’re committed to having as many children as the Lord chooses to bless us with, so my wife doesn’t have a minute to call her own. We’ve seven kids in ten years-it’s been forever since she and I got away along together. I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor. But honestly, where’s the time…

-Part of the reason we live out here in the country is so we can get away from the world’s bad influences. Some of the people around here are meth addicts and I really don’t want them in our home. I don’t want them around my wife or children. I’m afraid if I stopped at their house to meet them, someone might light a cigarette and the whole place would blow up. You know?…

-Listen Jesus. You know what? I don’t think my so called “neighbor” is that lousy bum out walking in the traffic island in the middle of the intersection trying to make people sorry for him with that sign asking for money. He can work just as good as me. Why doesn’t he? You know he’s gonna spend the money on booze or drugs. He’s not my neighbor….

-I’ve thought carefully about the whole thing, Jesus. Poverty is not an economic problem. It’s a spiritual problem with a spiritual solution. Real poverty isn’t hunger or thirst or limited medical care. It’s dying without faith in Jesus Christ. We need to give our attention to the first things. We’ve gotta be Gospel-centered. We can’t spend our time arranging deck chairs on the Titanic when souls are dying and going to Hell…

-Jesus, think of all the so-called Christians who have turned away from witnessing to the Gospel, instead talking about social justice, healing the planet, sustainability, and global warming. Is that what this is all about? Are You just telling me to engage in more liberal do-goodsim?…

You see how many ways we justify our cold hearts? We love ourselves quite well, thank you. Meanwhile, we’re absolutely convinced we have no money or time or energy to love any outsider. We think most of Christian living is simply keeping our marriage and home intact.

Jesus wants us to understand that being a neighbor to a man in need is not a duty, but a privilege. Instead of trying to limit our compassion, we’re to live by faith trusting God to give us everything we need as we look for opportunities so serve, love, and show compassion in the nasty public world outside our clean homes and churches.

It’s our privilege to take responsibility for others, especially others from the wrong side of the tracks, others lacking visas, others who worship a false god, others whose problems are overwhelming to us and will likely bankrupt us if we stop to ask how we may help. This is our privilege.

This is what God did for us. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us that we would be called children of God; and such we are. (I Jn 3:1)

Our Father is unbelievably  liberal with His love, isn’t He? If we are commanded to be like Him, why are we so conservative? When He has been so tender can compassionate, sending His only begotten Son to die for sinful man, how can we be so stingy? Why are we so tight-fisted?

Look, the world doesn’t have enough bandwidth on the web or ink and paper to print all the excuses we self-professed Christian men use to justify ourselves in our lovelessness. Can we not commit ourselves to hear Jesus’s story and to learn what He intended to teach us by our hero, the Good Samaritan?

This chapter was painful to read. We, conservative Christians who love our money and peace and privacy and theology,  make these excuses. We wrap our coldness up in Bible verses and pious phrases. The reality is we don’t want to get dirty with the world. We don’t want the beaten man’s blood on our nice clean clothes. How can we change this brothers? How can we get our families to care, to truly love, those in our community?  I continue to evaluate what the church, her pastors, and her people are called to do out in the “nasty public world.” One thing I am convinced of is that we need to find ways to love our neighbors and to practice justice and mercy in the city gate. If we do not our witness will be weak and God will not be glorified.

One thought on “Showing Compassion in the Nasty Public World

  1. Great post. I think that as conservatives, we are sometimes afraid of being bunched up with the liberals, and so in an effort to avoid that, we end up surrendering the tools of our faith to them. Those excuses are very convicting, and I’ve made some of them. I pray that God will make us doctrinally thorough, but compassionate servants in our communities.

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