Monday, March 31, 2008

A Monopoly? Or is it Just Religious Pride? - Austin

Compassion has been thought of in many church circles as an exclusively “Christian” trademark. Maybe I rub shoulders in the wrong crowd. Or, maybe Christians don’t hold the monopoly our pride wants to claim.

An award has just been given to a lady I know quite well. She serves on the same Board of Directors I serve on. A strong lady, a survivor, an overcomer, she has little patience for my Christian beliefs. Yet her encouragement has been a key factor in my continued involvement. She finds ways to express appreciation and to affirm the contribution I make, often at times when I struggle to know if I am contributing at all. She does the same for many other people as well. She gives of herself unstintingly in thousands of little ways, lifting and encouraging people.

I know many people in the church who pour themselves into people’s lives in thousands of little acts of compassion. No one raises the church standard higher than those people. No one models life-styles I want more to emulate. Yet people like this lady model a life-style of compassion every bit as high. My religious pride can’t figure that out. Some part of me says it shouldn’t be possible.

You bet!
Worth celebrating?
In every way I know how.

I am honored by this lady’s friendship. I am honored by her honesty about the things I believe in that she disagrees with. I am honored to stand side by side with her, to team my compassion with hers.

I confess to being very frustrated at times to see the churches so full of people celebrating love and compassion, but so few of those people involved in the caring agencies of our society. I confess to being frustrated by the guy who stares back at me from the mirror every time I shave because he talks (and writes) about compassion easier than he shows it. I also confess to being baffled by the depth of compassion I often see in people who strongly disagree with my belief in God, yet give of themselves to help others.

Do we “Christians” hold a monopoly on compassion? We claim to follow the ‘Prince of Peace,’ the ‘Light of the World,’ the One who ‘So Loved the World He Gave His Only Son,’ but much of the time we are content to hide behind our church walls, sing our songs and talk about love. This lady and so many other put love into action. While we are talking about compassion they are living it.

Humbling as it is, I’ll dare to celebrate that compassion. I’ll dare to try to learn from it. I’ll risk much to pay tribute, though the best language I can find is clumsy and inadequate – because there is no monopoly on compassion and it deserves a thanks wherever it is found.

1 comment:

Linda Wegner said...

Bingo, Brian, you hit it on the head! I'm on the Board of Directors for a service agency and find the same situation...and even find myself at times adding anger to my hurt pride: anger at things said and done in the name of the Lord and anger at the times I've been the guilty one. Thanks for this word!

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