A Great Light

A Great Light

“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone…
For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.

Isaiah 9:2, 6-7a ESV

In this time of increasing darkness, where the future seems more and more uncertain with every passing day, this is a promise we can cling to. This is the Hope of Christmas. That two-thousand some years ago, in the measly, little town of Bethlehem, under the shelter of a stable, beneath the light of the greatest star to ever shine in the heavens, God became flesh and dwelt among men. He established His kingdom on earth and drove out the kingdom of sin and darkness that had ruled for far too long, and, one day, He shall return to judge the nations and bring His bride to Himself.

We cannot look back and remember that scene in the Bethlehem—the fulfillment of the promise of the coming Messiah—without also looking forward towards the hope that He will soon come again. All throughout the Old Testament, we see these prophecies of the coming King; they are coupled with descriptions of the suffering Servant who lived a humble life and died on behalf of man. Rarely do they appear in isolation of one another, and, while those events did not occur simultaneously, they are not meant to be remembered separately.

The prophecies pointing to Christ that we read at this time of year and the descriptions of their fulfillment should remind us that God always keeps His promises. He is faithful to fulfill all that He said. He orchestrated amazing events, all of which seemed small, disconnected, and unimportant to bring about the newborn King who would serve as the sacrifice for sin and the object of God’s wrath, only to be triumphally resurrected with the promise of His final return.

There is also amazing beauty, completely worthy of celebration, in the idea of the incarnation. That Almighty God, the Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega chose to become an infant—a child totally helpless and innocent—so that He could save mankind from itself. The full weight of omnipotence wrapped up in a baby in the most humble circumstances. Christ gave up the entirety of His glory. He emptied Himself. He stepped down from the throne of heaven to live the life of a man who would be despised and rejected by all. He knew what would come of His mission full well, yet He did not hesitate in His obedience to the Father because His love for Him and for us was so deep. It is the most paradoxical moment in all of history, and, simultaneously, more beautiful than words are fit to describe. God became man to be the Savior of the World.

Christmas should be a time of celebration, but it should also be a time of longing. This is not our home. The story does not end in Bethlehem. It ends at the creating of the new heaven and new earth, in the new Jerusalem, with the wedding banquet of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7, 21:1, 10) So let us rejoice that God brought about the fulfillment of His promises, but let us also live this day with the promise of hope for a better one and rejoice all the more in that fact. He is our guiding Light that will bring us into a new day. God was faithful, God is faithful, God will be faithful. Praise be to our never-changing God!

With the hope of the coming Messiah and a merry Christmas to all,

Jonathon Hastings

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:4-5 ESV

A Great and Terrible Darkness

Two years ago, after years of begging for a pet by my siblings, we got a cat. She was a very young farm cat who we were assured was fully house broken. A statement which appeared to hold up…during the day. However, every night, after the sun had set, everyone had gone to bed, and the lights had been turned off, she would seemingly abandon her training in favor of the different rugs scattered throughout the house, whichever one was closest to the where she was sleeping.

This pattern continued for weeks. She would use the litter pan during the day, but once it became night, she would return to the rugs and there seemed to be nothing we could do to stop her. Every suggestion given to us by our vet failed to deter her. We were beginning to lose hope for the situation when a somewhat ridiculous idea hit me. After weeks of having her around, I had begun to notice that she refused to enter dark spaces unless someone was right there with her, preferably holding her. Our cat was afraid of the dark. I shared the idea with my mother who was willing to try anything at that point. We put a small nightlight in the laundry room with the litter pan and waited to see what would happen. The following morning, much to our delight, we discovered that she had used the litter pan in the night, and we have never had a problem with it since.

The fear of the dark is perhaps the most common phobia found in mankind. It is present in almost every child I have ever met. It transcends cultures, time, geography, and apparently even species on occasion.  The uneasy feeling that comes from being in an unfamiliar place without being able to see clearly is hard to shake and, under the right circumstances, can get almost anyone’s blood pumping. We like to know what is going on in front of us, and when we can’t, we tend to become anxious, panicky, and even aggravated.

Like a wounded animal, we shut down or strike out in fear and uncertainty, which is why perhaps, we have so many issues trusting God when we do not know what is going on in front of us. It is in those times that we seem to forget that God is not just the Creator of the day and the light, but also the dark and the night. He is equally Lord over both and uses each of them to His glory in His timing. They are never out of His control. So if He reveals what is to come with radiant, illuminating light that makes each detail clear as crystal, then praise be to Him, but if He doesn’t. If He chooses to shroud what is to come in darkness and simply offers us His hand and says follow me, then praise be to Him all the more.

When we can’t seem to see the hand in front of our face, maybe it is because we are being hidden away within the cupped hands of the One who desires to be our eyes for us. In Exodus 33, when Moses asks to see the glory of the Lord, God says, “while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” (Exodus 33:22 ESV) While here, God was protecting Moses from death from seeing His face, the principle still stands. Sometimes, God chooses to hide us away so that we do not see Him at work for any number of reasons, but He always does it in our best interest. It is our job, in those moments to trust Him more than we trust our own vision. We may not know where His hand is leading but we do know the One who leads, and He is worthy of our trust.

All throughout the Bible, there is this picture of “a great and terrible darkness” that comes over people when the Lord is present. All the way back in Genesis 1:2, we see the presence of God and darkness:

“[D]arkness was over the surface of the deep, and* the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”

Genesis 1:2 NASB
*emphasis added

The word darkness here literally translates to obscurity. We see it with Abraham in Genesis 15, during the most important moment in all of the Old Testament, the making of the Abrahamic covenant. Except here, it is not just any ordinary darkness that descends on Abraham; it is described as a terrible and horrible darkness.

“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram…”

Genesis 15:12-13a ESV

We so often think of the presence of God as nothing more than a glowing light, warm and fuzzy, and we forget that He is also the Great and Terrifying Darkness. He uses both to His glory and for the betterment of His people. So, in the times where the future seems like a dark shroud, remember that it is only dark because it is being hidden by the Lord’s hand and presence for our own good. He has us here in this place for a reason, and, while we don’t know the reason right now, we do know the One who does. We know we can trust Him to give us exactly what we need to know and the absolute, best time for us to know it.

So take comfort in that fact right now: that we might not have all the answers to all the questions, but we know the One who does. And in that, we can find a peace that transcends understanding and a faith that is anchored in the true character of the Most High.

With the trust and faith found only in Christ,

Jonathon Hastings

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.”

Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV

United – Salt Water Taste from a Fresh Water Spring

Salt Water Taste from a Fresh Water Spring

James is an incredibly hard-hitting book, filled with practical living advice that cuts straight to the heart. If you are ever in need of a swift kick to the stomach, then James is the place to go. His message is no-nonsense and presents strong, clear challenges to Christians on how they should be living every day. No one walks away from reading James feeling proud of themselves, but rather they are all the more grateful for the mercy and grace we have because of Jesus.

“With the tongue, we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

James 3:9-12 ESV

This is an incredibly powerful and convicting passage, that relentlessly articulates the harsh consequences of a seldom addressed topic: the issue of gossip. In a culture that praises people for being “salty” and merciless with their words, gossip and slander have become some of the greatest obstacles to unity among believers that plagues the Church today. Above doctrinal differences, traditional preferences, and all other biases, gossip—the quiet slighting, word exchanged between two confidants—is responsible for more damage than any force within the community of believers. Just as every kind, loving word spoken in encouragement plants seeds of redemption in the lives of all that hear it, every caustic, dishonoring remark we make sows seeds of scorn that will sprout into a harvest of hatred and discord whether we want it to or not.

Moreover, James draws a direct parallel between our words and opinions spoken towards man and our words and opinions towards God. The two are inseparably linked: to despise the creation is to despise the Creator. What we say about the people around us, created in God’s image, candidly reflects what we think about the God. Effectively what James is asking is: would you say that same thing to God? If not, then why did you say it?

Words are powerful. With His words, God spoke the universe into existence. He called forth the sun and separated the heavens from the earth. He declared sin and death defeated, and, one day, He will return to reclaim the earth with “a sharp two-edged sword going forth out of His mouth” (Revelation 1:16). Every time we speak, we are confronted with a choice: to create or to destroy. In one way or another, every word we choose to communicate will ultimately end up in one of those two categories, and we will be held accountable for each and every one.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person, out of his good treasure, brings forth good, and the evil person, out of his evil treasure, brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak.

Matthew 12:35-36 ESV

That thought is absolutely petrifying. Let me make myself clear. I say these things, not as one making orders and calling out others mistakes from an ivory tower, but, rather, as one burrowed in the trenches, desperately fighting alongside others to tame the tongue and leave a legacy of love and encouragement as opposed to one of derision and belittlement, but often, I feel as though I am fighting a losing battle. I fully understand why both of these passages seem so harsh and unforgiving. They lay out their message clearly so that no one is left without excuse: what comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart. When we speak deridingly of others, it says very little about the true condition of that person; instead, it speaks wonders to the evil stored up within us.

What more can I say except praise be to God for the mercy and forgiveness that we have in Christ! We are all sinful, decaying beings, hopeless without someone to help us, but we can and we will find that help in Christ. By His strength, we can overcome this sin that has so saturated our day-to-day lives that we overlook it for fear of having to stare down the tyrannical, unforgiving beast face-to-face. It is raging, ugly Goliaths just like this that Christ went to the cross to forgive and to defeat. We need to do no more than to go before His throne in repentance and ask for His strength to take up this battle once more, and it is through this battle, that we can begin to restore the unity of believers within each of our own individual worlds.

With the solidarity and renewed strength found in Christ,

Jonathon Hastings

“He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
     but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV


← Part 1

United

United

Every year, when high school swimming season rolled around, our coach would gather the entire team for a meeting, and at that meeting, he would give the exact same speech. By the time I was a senior, I probably could have delivered it if I had been asked to. The central premise of the speech was this: there are plenty of times when a team he had coached competed and won on a much larger scale than they ever should have because they were a team. Individual talent can perform all day long, but when a team comes together they can accomplish things the individual never will be able to.

There were several times throughout my high school career as a swimmer where I had to swim what my coach and I liked to affectionately call “the gauntlet.”  I would be entered in the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 500-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke, and the 400-yard freestyle relay all which would occur within the span of about twenty-five minutes. I would essentially finish swimming one race, get out of the pool, and get right back on the blocks for the next race. It was brutal. By the end, I would be so exhausted that it would take all that I had to just to pull myself out of the pool. Yet, each and every time, as I finished my leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay, I would be overrun with a burst of energy to pull myself up and yell as my teammate brought home the final leg of the relay. I would hardly be able to breathe by that point, yet somehow I would overcome that to shout along with everyone else as they reached in to touch the wall.

There is something powerful and uplifting about being united with a group of people towards a common cause, and this is no secret to Christianity or the Bible. The whole of the New Testament centers around this idea of being united as one, and I would argue that it is one of the most stressed points in the whole of Scripture.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35 ESV

Here, Christ states that the key identifying factor for those that follow Him should be that they are united in love. Yet today, the Church as a whole is not known for its love; on the contrary, in our society, we are known for our hatred and our division. While there are, I believe, some very good reasons for some of those divisions, we still fail to show that love and unity on an individual level. While I am not saying we must all come together, join hands, and sing Kumbaya, (I do not think that would be practical or altogether useful), fixing this problem of unity ultimately has to begin on a personal level. Not at some international summit between leaders of different denominations, but here, at home, in each of our lives.

We, as Christians, need to set aside our trivial judgments, our opinionated prejudices, our unholy enmity towards one another and learn what it means to love sacrificially. To present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God but through those around us. The passage on presenting ourselves as living sacrifices comes in the context of Romans 12, an entire chapter on living in unity as one body and serving one another. This is something that is much easier said than done, but, when it is carried through, the effects are immeasurable.

Humility and unity are two things that walk hand-in-hand. We must first accept that we are worth nothing more and nothing less than those around—that we have all been made equal in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Then we must learn to set aside our own wants and needs in service to others. Romans 12:10 states that we should seek to outdo one another in showing love and honoring others.  There are thousands of verses that speak to this concept of doing all that we can to treat others better than ourselves, and they not only serve to heighten the sense of importance found in this command but they also act as a reminder everytime we open our Bibles that we should be actively working to display or love for others. No matter who they are, what they have done, or where they came from. It should always be our number one priority to show them love, just as we would a part of our own body.

With the love of Christ,

Jonathon Hastings

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

1 John 3:18 ESV


Part 2 →

Compassion Is Coupled with Action

Compassion is Coupled with Action

Compassion is where love meets mercy and overflows into physical manifestations of grace.

What is compassion? A few months ago, a friend posed that question to me, and I did not have an answer. I am awful at giving definitions for words. I could identify compassion in a heartbeat if I saw it, I could list a thousand and one examples of it, I could tell you how it feels to experience compassion, but I could not define. It was that question that eventually sparked my study of the book of Lamentations, this series of posts, and an index card that I now keep tucked away inside of my Bible with those words written on it.

While I still believe that compassion is an infinite something that will always defy definition, that was the answer I ultimately settled on. Someone far more eloquent than me could have undoubtedly defined it better, but that was the simple answer I came to after reading Lamentations, looking at Jesus’ moments of expressed compassion, and some thinking and praying of my own.

Love Meets Mercy

Love and mercy. Two infinite somethings in their own right, but when they are coupled together, they create something even more beautiful than just the sum of two parts. They get to the essence of what compassion is. Once again, I cannot even pretend to be able to give any good, working definition of those words, but we have all experienced them in our own lives. We know what they look like. They come in many different forms, but always deliver the same, sweet comfort that could only originate from God Himself.

They are capable of functioning separately—you can have mercy without having love and have love without having mercy—but it is when they come together, when you find mercy compelled by undying, unconditional love, that compassion is born.

Mercy chooses not to bring down punishment on an object deserving of wrath, even though it has every right to do so. It can be driven by just about any motivation under the sun, selfish or selfless as they may be, but it is set apart when its motivation is love. Love gives mercy a purpose that no other motivation can. Love drives a person to show mercy for the sake of the object deserving of wrath. It seeks what is in the best interest of the object and actively works to bring that about. Mercy is the moment; love the follow through. When they meet, compassion happens.

Overflows Into Physical Manifestations of Grace

If love and mercy are what compassion is, then physical manifestations of grace is what it does. All throughout the Gospels, the phrase “and He had compassion on them” pops up, but never in isolation. It is always accompanied by some action, some teaching, some miracle. Christ never simply feels bad for someone and then carries on with His day. He stops and intervenes in the situation. That is what differentiates between compassion and mere pity. Pity says “Oh, that’s unfortunate.” Compassion asks, “What can I do to make it better?”

It does not stop at the door of daydreaming or balk at the window of wishful thinking. It steps out into reality and extends a helping hand. It involves itself in the dirt and pain of the situation. Not because the person receiving it is worthy of it, but because its motivation is firmly founded in love and mercy.

Compassion cannot help itself but to help others. When a heart is truly filled with those two infinite somethings, it will eventually run out of room, the floodgates will give way, and it will run over into the nearest, lowest point: the person that needs it most. The beauty behind this is that once that basin has been filled, it will then turn outwards and fill the desperately depleted reservoirs around it. In this way, the compassion of Christ is spread throughout the world.

Christ’s infinite sacrifice, the ultimate point of compassion, acts as the source from which all of these other actions flow. He had compassion on us while we were still sinners so that, today, we might have compassion on others. He fills us with His love and mercy every single day and our cups runneth over. So let us never be afraid to take that step and show compassion to those around us that need it. The weak, tired, frail, often-upset world around us is crying out for it. Let us never lose hope because of God’s compassion on us, but let us let that compassion move us to action thereby replicating the pattern Christ set out for us.

With the love and compassion of Jesus,

Jonathon Hastings

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Colossians 3:12 NIV


← Part 2

Compassion Is a Reason to Hope

A Reason to Hope

A few months back, inspired by a suggestion from a friend of mine, I made the decision to do a brief study on the book of Lamentations. It is a small, often ignored book filled with horrifying firsthand descriptions of the fall of Jerusalem. Not exactly the first place we, as New Covenant believers, look to for inspiration or practical living advice. But nestled within those pages of death, destruction, and despair, there is a message. A beautiful depiction of a God whose compassion transcends all of that depravity and devastation. A guiding light of hope that promises that even in the greatest depths of our pain God is still there—waiting and working to restore us to Himself.

The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah, who is frequently referred to as the “weeping prophet,” lived what was potentially one of the hardest lives humanity has ever seen. He was instructed by God not to marry (Jeremiah 16:2) as the grief his life would bring upon a wife and children would be too much for them to bear. He was also instructed, “do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.” (Jeremiah 7:6 NIV) He was a witness to a generation that had long since made up their minds to their course action and that action was rebellion. The book itself, Lamentations, literally means to weep or grieve passionately. But even here, God’s compassion is evident, and it provides hope for a better day.

“Lord, look and consider
     who You have done this to.
Should women eat their own children, 
     the infants they have nurtured? 
Should priests and prophets
     be killed in the Lord’s sanctuary?
ׁ
Both young and old
     are lying on the ground in the streets.
My young men and women
     have fallen by the sword.
You have killed them in the day of Your anger…”
Lamentations 2:20-21a HCSB

These are horrifying descriptions of what was taking place within the walls of Jerusalem. Babylon had laid siege to the city, meaning they had encamped all around its walls, cutting off any supply of food, and simply waited for the city to starve itself to death. Then, once the city was too weak and frail to fight back, they swept in and finished off what was left and burned it to the ground.

Perhaps, that is why what follows sounds so strikingly beautiful and amazing. It stands in total contrast to everything around it. As Jeremiah looks around and sees fire, blood, and judgment, he also remembers who the Lord is. The Lord is compassionate. The Lord is faithful.

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
     we do not perish,
     for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
     great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
     therefore I will put my hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:23-25 HCSB

The contrast is so stark that you almost have to go back and read it again. But what Jeremiah is saying here, and he continues to say it all throughout the remainder of the book, is that as long as we are still alive—as long as we have not perished—then the Lord has had mercy on us. He still has a plan for us, for if He didn’t, He would have wiped us off the face of the earth. Yet we are alive, so Yahweh must still have compassion, and we can put our hope in Him.

Now think to your present circumstances, whatever they maybe. Do they in any way compare to the circumstances that faced Jeremiah on the night he penned those words? Is your entire city being burned to the ground? Are the people around you resorting to cannibalism because they have nowhere else to turn? Are the dead being piled up on the streets outside of your door? Then how much more of a reason do you have to hope than he did on that night? God has not abandoned you. Even when you bring the whole world down on your head. Even when it is entirely your fault. There is nothing that cannot be covered by God’s compassion. There is nothing that will not be covered by God’s compassion, illustrated in the death of Christ on the cross.

We always have hope because of God’s covenant faithfulness. He made a covenant with Abraham: that His descendants would inhabit this land forever. He made a covenant with David: that a king would come from His line whose reign would be eternal. He fulfilled both of those promises. He returned Israel to their land and brought about the Messiah who would break the bondage of sin and death. He overcame all that plagued Israel in order to fulfill His promise, even though that tragedy and their depravity seemed insurmountable. Therefore, as long as we are still living and breathing, we can cling to the hope for a better day, because God’s compassion never fails. It brings about mercy after mercy. We do not have to live in fear of the Lord deserting us because we have His promise and because we have the work of Christ.

So join in the hope of Jeremiah who waited for the day of restoration, join in the hope of Zechariah and Simeon who waited for the day of the coming Messiah, join in the hope of all creation for the day when the King will return and restore the earth to the glory of the One who made it, and never give up hope because God’s compassion will never fail.

With the hope and love of the Coming King,

Jonathon Hastings

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him…
It is good to wait quietly
     for deliverance from the Lord… 
He will show us compassion
     according to His faithful love.”
Lamentations 3:25a, 26, 32b HCSB

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Compassion Is a Love that Defies Understanding

A Love that Defies Understanding

Compassion is a funny thing. Just like so many things in the kingdom of God, it takes the expectations and natural reactions of the world, and it turns them on their head. When we feel that oh-so-human draw to push, to grasp, to fight for the best, and to trample those who stand in our way, Jesus is always there standing in the gap, calling us to humble ourselves, to defer to others, to forgive, to love irrationally, to live in this incredible tension between our desires and His. He calls us to a higher standard, a different way of life: to set down our means to our ends, and instead, take up His means to His ends with the faith that He has something far greater planned than we ever could imagine.

It takes that very faith when we choose to practice compassion, yet there are few characteristics that better demonstrate the love of Christ than this.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:34 ESV

So often we read that verse and think to ourselves, “Well, of course, Jesus had compassion on them! Any decent human being would.” And we forget who exactly this crowd was comprised of. It was comprised of people. Thousands upon thousands of people each with their own selfish needs and agendas fighting for an audience with one man. They looked to Him for even their most basic needs, having no food for themselves and asking Him to provide. They grumbled and complained constantly and even attempted to stone Him on multiple occasions, and, when Jesus, looking for a moment’s solitude, withdrew from them to be alone with the Father, they followed relentlessly, desperately, unremittingly.

Yet, in the face of all of that, Jesus saw them and had compassion. A compassion that would prove to be more relentless, more desperate, more unremitting than their pursuit of Him. The compassion he showed goes beyond just this simple idea of pity, it is coupled with action. The Son of God saw these people just as they were—a giant, unmitigated disaster bent on their own destruction—and lowered Himself to their level, felt their pain, but He did not stop there. He acted. He taught the masses, He healed the blind, He fed the hungry, and freed the oppressed. He did this time and time again. There was no end to His compassion. There was nothing these people could do, no complaint they could give, no challenge they could offer, no stone they could throw that could diminish the love and the compassion Christ had on them.

Compassion comes in the strangest of places, under the most unexpected of circumstances, and that is what makes it so remarkably beautiful. It is defined by the way it reacts in love to hate. It responds to the most worldly of impulses with the most other-worldly of reactions. It is not something we can muster up from within us. Rather, it is something that is poured out on to us, that we then pour out onto others.

“We love because He first loved us.”

1 John 4:19 BLB

Christ had that very same compassion He had on the crowds on us before we accepted Him. We wandered around like sheep without a shepherd, we only came to Him for our needs and desires, and we picked up stones to stone Him time and time again until He reached down, saw us in all of our pain and lostness, healed our blindness, and called us to Himself. And now we, as His witnesses here on earth, are called to have that same compassion for others.

This is not a task that comes easy; especially for those who find themselves called into a position where they are the ones being asked to shepherd the flock. All too often, the first thing we do when we see an unhappy crowd is to do our best to steer clear of it, not take compassion on it. Yet this is precisely what Jesus calls us to do: to love the seemingly unlovable. Not because it is easy, not because it won’t hurt, but because it demonstrates real, true, sacrificial love. Love that defies understanding. Love that can only come from God alone. We are called to step into this mess of humanity we find all around us, not to flinch when it hates us, to reach out in love, and, through all of that, guide them to the Shepherd that will ultimately heal their infirmities.

That is what compassion is and that is what makes it something worth showing. I hope and pray that we can all find and reflect that compassion because in that God will be undeniably glorified.

With the unrelenting love found in Christ,

Jonathon Hastings

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”

Matthew 20:34 NIV


Part 2 →