Wednesday Word: Compassion and Risk
Compassion cannot happen from a guarded, invulnerable distance. It sends us to come alongside people who find themselves isolated, separated, segregated, demonized, otherized, and relegated to the margins of peace, justice, and hope. – Gregg Louis Taylor, Here Now With You, p. 38
In many instances Jesus showed compassion to any number of people: lepers, demoniacs, tax collectors, prostitutes, disabled, maimed, women, foreigners. Very rarely do we see Jesus performing miracles from a distance. The vast majority of the time Jesus performs healing miracles alongside those in need, sometimes touching those who were untouchable.
And even when not performing miracles, he spends time alongside people outside the boundary of the accepted norm. Think about the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the sinful woman who washed his feet, the tax collector at whose house he ate, the tax collector he called to discipleship, and others.
Walking the way of Jesus compels us to offer compassion – and not just compassion from a distance, but compassion next to those in need. Compassion compels us to walk next to, sit beside, and eat with those who have been relegated to the margins.
This also entails a great deal of risk. Compassion isn't simply a feel good emotion that lets us pin a gold star on our shirt. True compassion is risky. It's risky to hang out at the REACH shelter. It's risky to stop and be a non-anxious and visible presence when a black man has been pulled over by multiple white police officers. It's risky to engage in a conversation with a homeless person on the street. It's risky to pull from your own resources to help those with limited resources.
The Church is a place that provides and offers compassion. It is also a place of risk.
May we be a people of compassion. May we be a people willing to take risks in the name of Jesus.