Thursday, September 03, 2009

a PICNIC with a PURPOSE - part 3

This is part 3 of a 3 part posting. Be sure to read parts 1 and 2 before reading part 3!

Later in the miracle we will learn how we are to do ministry today but as the stage is set we first must learn that ministry stems from a heart of compassion. I’m not just talking feeling sympathy for someone because we see their physical and spiritual needs. I’m talking having our inner being stirred because of the reality of their need. I’m talking about our suffering with them on the inside because we see their desperation. I’m talking a compassion that is so real and so strong that it causes us to postpone our agendas and overlook our preferences in order to make a physical and spiritual difference in the lives of others. I’m talking about a compassion that looks beyond our own grief and our own tiredness because we are overwhelmed with the real needs of others. I’m talking a compassion that is the complete opposite of selfishness and self-interest.

Did the disciples catch this truth? As the day winds down the disciples became concerned (Matthew 14:15). It was now evening (nearing 6pm…just before sunset) and the location was desolate and the people had not eaten. So they go to Jesus with an “easy answer” to the predicament. Their suggestion was simply for Jesus to send the crowd away (Mark 6:35-36). How’s that for compassion? By the way, this would not be the last time the disciples saw the answer to a tough situation as sending the people away (Matthew 15:23). The disciples sure had a lot to learn, didn’t they? But let’s be honest, so do we.

I’m not sure that we as a church collectively truly have the same type of compassion that Jesus showed in Bethsaida that day. I’m not sure that we are really stirred in our hearts at the physical and spiritual needs of people around us. In fact, I’m not sure that we take all that much time to even notice the needs all around us wherever we go. I’m not sure that we suffer inside with the desperation of others around us and the desperation of those around the world. I’m not sure that we are ready to abandon our own personal agendas, preferences and needs on a moment’s notice because God has broken our hearts with the hurts of others.

Meeting people right where they are at begins when we have real, Christ-like compassion for others. Moving people to where God wants them to be occurs when our compassion compels us to move away from our own selfishness, take some risks, and place ourselves right smack dab in the middle of the lives of others. And this compassion can only be developed as we become more like Christ, as we spend more time alone with Jesus. I wonder what would happen if every single person who calls Grace Church home would start every day of the rest of their lives by dropping to their knees and asking God to give them a love for hurting and needy people. I wonder what would happen if everyone who calls Grace Church home would start every day of the rest of their lives by asking God to break their hearts and fill them with a real, Christ-like compassion for others. I wonder.

Over the last 2 Sundays here at Grace we have taken the time to study this entire miracle of Jesus thoroughly. Be sure to visit our website ( and watch the videos.

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