Compassion is a sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Jesus was, by all accounts, the most compassionate rabbi of them all. He didn’t care about wealth or status, he never told someone that they were too ill or had the wrong kind of sickness, he even helped foreigners who happened to be at the right place and at the right time.
Sometimes I wonder on whom Jesus would show compassion today; the outcasts, the poor, the ailing, the spiritually lost, and those just struggling to get through the day. When Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and prostitutes of his day, he was partying with the kind of guy that would cheat anyone and everyone out of every cent they had and then some as well as ladies with the reputation of being unfaithful; both were so very worldy that they were considered to be entirely spiritually bankrupt. Considering that cheating people out of their money is more or less the norm today, it’s easy to see that they code of the tax collectors is alive and well. As for faithfulness, it’s difficult to say how we are on that as a society as well. The average person might be doing a better job of it than our televisions would have us believe.
Christians, I think, can easily loose sight of the necessity of compassion. A lot of times people have this attitude of “Not sinning is so easy for me, I don’t see why you can’t keep yourself out of trouble for five minutes.” You see, half the problem with the Pharisees was that they were more concerned that their own spiritual lives weren’t tainted by the sins of others. It takes a lack of compassion to put your own spiritual well-being ahead of the suffering of others, but it’s that lack of compassion that actually decreases your spiritual well-being. Helping the hurting, comforting the ill, caring for the needs of others does so much more good for others than avoiding such things for the sake of ones own spiritual purity.
I think Jesus’ heart would go out to the people that we don’t invite to church, the ones that are sinners of all kinds who are lost, but also to Christians whose experiences with churches were less than compassionate, all sorts of people, really. Even you and me. Which is why I think Christians should exercise compassion to everyone they meet. Things might be different for them if they walked a mile in the shoes of the people they haven’t been kind to, the people they’ve judged, the people they’ve ignored, and the people that Jesus still loves no matter what.