Compassion and the Grace of God

A few years ago it was fashionable among to
deride compassion as a sign of weakness and naivete’. In fact, compassion
arises not from weakness but from graciousness–the abundant grace of
God.

I recall public comments only a few years ago that derided compassion as a sign of weakness and naivete’. Overcoming poverty was a matter of individual initiative. Those who spoke of our corporate responsibility for each other were bleeding hearts, out of touch with the new political reality.

What was missed in the headlines and news stories is an idea that is central to a biblical understanding of life. Compassion is rooted in the abundance of God’s grace. For those of us who believe life is a gift from God, and that God provides us with both abundant resources and resourcefulness to live with purpose and meaning, compassion is an extension of the abundance we’ve already received from God. More directly, in Christian theology, we believe we inherit the willingness of God to enter into our our own human situation and to sacrifice to reveal to us a way to live that is unifying and healing, even to the point of dying under horrible conditions to complete this revelation of sacrificial love.

It’s difficult to speak of this in public discourse because it is easily misunderstood and religious language has gotten a bad rap the past several years. So those who believe in more inclusive community, sacrifice for the good of the whole and constructive dialogue have tended to be quiet.

But the wake-up call has come. The floodwaters of New Orleans washed away any excuse to not stand for justice and to remain quiet when others demean compassion. We are only as strong as we can be compassionate.

Our security doesn’t come from weaponry, but from a consistent moral vision of the human community that leaves no one behind, cares for the vulnerable and seeks justice for the “least of these.”

And this isn’t our own doing. This understanding comes from a biblical witness that reminds us of a loving God who says that to be faithful we must, “do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.”

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