Compassion without Christ

For anyone who thinks you can’t have compassion without Christ, think again. In fact, if you take one good look at the world, you will more than likely find all sorts of compassion. At forty-seven years old, I daresay I see more compassion now than ever. Sure, evil is everywhere. But compassion abounds. From one non-profit organization to another, from this cause to that cause, from one new group to another longstanding one, from one individual raising money for one family in need to another family giving away money to an individual in dire straits, compassion is just about everywhere. So is it possible to have compassion without Christ?

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Absolutely. I see it constantly. I see countless people involved in causes jam packed with compassion, and totally transparent about their lack of faith in Christ. So if the lack of compassion isn’t the problem in our world right now, what is? It’s the lack of Christ. Why? Because all the compassion in the world won’t get a compassionate person into heaven. And all the compassion in the world won’t get the recipient of it into heaven either.

And if that’s not a big enough problem as it is, the other side of the compassion-without-Christ coin is that all the compassion in the world without Christ won’t get the giver of the compassion nor the receive of it a rock solid relationship with God on earth that brings unconditional love, peace, hope, faith, and fulfillment. Nor, most importantly of all, does it bring love and adoration and reverence and submission and service to the Lord God almighty, creator of the universe.

Compassion may be a hot commodity, and well it should be, and it may be warm and fuzzy and wonderful to both the one who doles it out as well as the one on the receiving end of it, but compassion without Christ will bring about one big dead end – not to mention eternity in hell without salvation through Christ. I have seen people innumerable times bending over backwards to love and smile and give, to serve and serve and serve some more, to do good deeds, to help others, to sacrifice their time and money and care.

But we must remember that a temporary hand out, and even a well-meaning hand up, does not have an eternal result. We can’t earn our way to heaven by compassionate deeds, nor can we have a life of unconditional love, peace, joy, hope, etc. through a relationship with God on earth, through a bunch of compassionate acts.

I am fortunate that my father in Christ who is now with the Lord was one of the most compassionate people I have ever seen on this earth. But I am more fortunate not because of his compassion, but because of the lesson he taught me. He taught me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Word of God, absolutely must come above any act of compassion. It must take precedence. And the Gospel must be distributed as a higher priority than any foods, shelter, clothing, medical care, money, sympathy, counsel, anything at all.

For what he taught me, even as he traveled back and forth for 14 years between inner city Savannah and Port Au Prince Haiti to minister to those in most dire need in both locations, was that it was not how he rolled up his sleeves and physically labored to help the hurting, the lost, the broken, the impoverished, the dying, etc. It was that no matter how dirty he got serving the poorest of the poor, and how tired he became from doing all the manual labor and organizing it all, he always made sure the greatest act of compassion he doled out was to teach people about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and the study and application of the  Bible to one’s life.

My beloved pastor’s compassion was not a compassion without Christ. His was a compassion because of Jesus Christ. His was not a compassion that would end as soon as the person ate their last spoonful of hot chili at a soup kitchen, or put up a donated tent in tent city after the Haiti earthquake. His greatest act of compassion, because of Christ, as all of ours should be, is that we tell the world that the only way to heaven, and the only way to a relationship with God on earth, is through repentance and believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

I confess there was a time even once I became a believer in Jesus Christ that I was more wrapped up in distributing physical provisions to people in need. In fact, I just about burned myself out from giving stuff to people who needed it, and to some who simply wanted it but didn’t really need it. But the Lord convicted me and brought me to repentance, reminding me that the greatest need in the entire universe is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ that people might be saved from the wrath of God we all deserve because of our sins and to receive the promise of eternal life through Christ.

And the need that goes right along with that is to help the world to understand that faith in Christ brings about salvation and spiritual new birth, but that this is just the beginning. We need to grow in the image of God, and this comes through study and application of the Bible to our lives. What is one of the results of this new life in Christ? You guessed it. Compassion. Compassion not without Christ. Compassion through Christ. Compassion for the glory of the Lord. Always, and I repeat always, with the Lord number one.

Mar 16:15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 
Mar 16:16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 

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