Original Posting At https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/be-compassionate/
These thoughts were meant to start a conversation at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church Sunday, Apri15 8, 2018. The discussion was to be based upon a reading from Luke 6:36 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Unfortunately, I was sick and had to miss worship. Nevertheless, here are my discussion notes.
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here. Note: the questions on this handout are often different from the questions raised in the discussion.
What did (do) you want to be when you grow up?
Are you what you’d hoped you’d be? Why or why not?
As Christians we are called to mature, and grow, and become something more than we once were. Throughout the New Testament we are challenged to be like Christ. We are told to grow, become mature, and seek the full stature of Christ and to have the same attitude (mind) that was in Christ.
Are you growing up in your faith, to the full stature of Christ? Why or why not?
Maturity in Christ is marked by compassion. We are called to be as Compassionate as the God who came and dwelt among us (see John 1), the God who gave God’s whole being to be us, “who is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble” (2 Corinthians 13b-4a, Common English Bible). We are called to live a fully compassionate life.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke: be compassionate. “Be compassionate just as your [heavenly] Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36, Common English Bible).
The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears… It is not surprising that compassion, understood as suffering with, often evokes in us a deep resistance and even protest… It is important for us to acknowledge this resistance and to recognize that suffering is not something we desire or to which we are attracted. On the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all cost. Therefore, compassion is not among our most natural response.
Why is compassion—to suffer with others—such an unnatural response? What keeps us from being fully compassionate?
Why does compassion matter? Why even try to be fully compassionate?
Why does Jesus command us to be compassionate? Why does it matter? Because the world is wounded. Its people suffer. And, God doesn’t want anyone to suffer alone. God desires that we meet (and stay with) one another in our sufferings and find healing there.
Siblings in Christ, in a wounded world that cries for healing, be compassionate—as fully as God is compassionate.
 from Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life (New York: Doubleday, 2005) by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison, p.3-4