“God is in the slums, God is in the silence of a mother with child with HIV, a virus that will end both of their lives. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.” -Bono
One of the first days I was back in the States, my mom asked, “After all your experiences overseas, are you mad at the way that Americans live?” Good question! I thought about it, then responded, “No, it’s just that most Americans don’t know, and you can’t be mad at them for that.” This conversation inspired me to share stories about compassion at my church last month, to open our eyes to the reality of what is taking place in the world around us.
I encourage you to listen to my sermon (below), which is themed around various stories during my World Race, and how I learned a little bit more about how to be Jesus with skin on. Really, one of our greatest calls as Christians is to enter into another person’s life and join them in what they’re going through, because it’s exactly what Christ did for us.
As Americans, we have this hyper-independent mentality that no matter what we are going through we should just put on a happy face and pretend like everything is ok. However, this is exactly the opposite of what the bible calls us to be – we are called to bear one another’s burdens, to be in a community of people that celebrate together and cry together with life’s ups and downs. In serving in the nations, it was incredible to be a part of whole villages that really did this well, and do see how God moved in the midst of them.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
A reporter once asked Mother Teresa which is the poorest country she had ever been to, and she responded, “Yes, yes, yes. I have been to many countries and seen much poverty and suffering. Everywhere I go people tell me of their hardships and struggles, and ask for help, and I give what I can. But of all the countries I have been to, the poorest one I have been to is America.” The reporter looked shocked – and she explained, “Because America suffers most from the poverty of loneliness, which is the worst poverty of all”
I’m convinced that if the body of Christ in America were to truly live lifestyles of compassion, humbling ourselves to enter into other people’s lives and loving them through it all, people would start to understand the fullness of why Jesus came His love for all people.
(To listen to or download my sermon, go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/journey-church-cambridge-boston/id421483721 and click on “Compassion” sermon from 6/24/13