Unlocking the compassionate heart within—-#22 of the 30 day challenge to blog

In the Christian scriptures, specifically Matthew, Jesus talks about being “perfect” like your heavenly father in perfect. In the gospel of Luke, the same verse is translated as “compassionate”…So Jesus says be compassionate as your heavenly father is compassionate. Smarter Bible Folk than me say that those two words “can be reduced to the same reality.”

Elsewhere in the scriptures it talks about being an imitator of God. C.S. Lewis describes the definition of a Christian to be a “little Christ.”

And it’s mind blowing to me that the essence of what God is calling to is to have his essence…compassion.

Often when we think of the word “perfection,” often I think, we think of ourselves. Even if we attribute to us being Christ-like…we think of us…we think of how well, or how bad we are. We think of how talented, or how un-talented we are. We think about us, not about others.

But the utter definition of compassion we find in the God inspired scriptures, and the utter plea of Jesus to his followers is…be like God, and be perfect in it…perfectly compassionate…For me it echoes Luke 9:23…Follow me, just leave yourself behind…Get so wrapped up in the compassion of others, that you forget your to-do list, and your perfectionistic tendencies, even if the list is religious. Or should I say, especially if the list is religious.

Bottom line, I think each and everyone of us has an explosive potential within all of us to be overwhelming compassionate. God let that be our prayer…that, much like a volcano, I could be overflowing with fiery compassion for all.

But what stands in the way? What’s stopping our volcano like heart from exploding with relentless compassion and reckless mercy for our loved ones and our enemies.

Well, if you have been reading any of my writings, you’ll catch a common them…it’s us. You & me. We stand in the way…but let’s sharpen the focus a little bit and be a tad more specific…

I believe what is standing in the way, and may be the key to unlocking this incredible potential to be like God…to be like Jesus…and be overwhelming compassionate is in direct correlation to how aware we are to our own need of compassion for ourselves. In other words, if we don’t understand the depths of our depravity, and need of mercy, grace, and compassion…the more reluctant we will be to dish it out to our fellow man. And once we’ve started down that road, it’s a slippery road to the land of self-righteousness and shallow pride.

I can’t remember the exact quote but Henri Nouwen once said something like this…”the more we understand our need of grace, the more willing we will be to give grace to others.”

Simply put, what stands in the way of our loving others, is choosing to live in the illusion of how great we are, and not accepting how bad we are. And when we live in that reality, we start to forget that not only are we not better than our fellow man, we may be way worse. I feel only a fool hears of a person’s sin and goes…”that could never be me…”…because a wise man hears of another person’s sin and goes…”that could have been me.”

Oh, sure we may understand on a shallow level, an intellectual level, and theological level that we are sinful, and that sin separates us from God, and Jesus died for us, and we need a savior…but then how come so many of us, especially that call ourselves Christians have such a hard time showing compassion to sinners?

It seems we’d rather live in an alternate universe with only acknowledging that we need God a little, and the other guy or gal needs God a whole lot more. Sure, I need a savior, but not as much as Joe or Sally.

I’m not making a case for living in the gutter, or low self-esteem…but to be aware, much like Paul, the author of much of the new testament, exclaimed, “I am the Chief of Sinners”…He understood his sin rightly. He understood that he was better than no one, that he deserved to stand at the end of the line when it comes to the handout of God’s amazing grace.

Where do you and I see ourselves in the line? If we understood, like Paul did, how bad we really were…we would get, comprehend, and understand that we too belong at the end of the line.

What I find is that those who are the most compassionate, are the ones who would all go..”I belong at the end of the line”…and the other person goes…”No, I do…”…and they begin to argue with each other with an aching heart…”No, I need God’s grace and mercy more…”…”No! I do!”…and so on…and so on…

But it’s a dangerous thing to accept how bad we are. Sure if you struggle with pride and self-righteousness it’s a hard thing, because it’s going to prove that all that you get from God doesn’t come because of how good you are…but because of how good God is…But for most of us…it’s a dangerous thing to accept our own depravity…because it’s a dangerous thing to be loved.

The minute you accept how poor you are in the spirit, it’s like opening a window up to the furious thunderstorm of God’s reckless love.

And it hurts. For example, when I’m really down in the dumps, and depressed…and someone…anyone comes up and shows me, even an ounce of tender mercy, or loving compassion…do you know what will happen? I’ll start crying. And in that moment, I often go, I know I’m a baby…but why am I crying…I mean really…why? And I think the answer is…that I was made to be loved…and when I run from God…or away from God…when I live in a false reality of not knowing how deep the well goes of my depravity…I won’t realize how dehydrated I am for the love of God.

So if I don’t let God be God in my own life…if I don’t let him be perfectly compassionate in my own heart….if I don’t open up the windows, shutters, and closest to the darkest parts of my heart and soul…in all it’s embarrassing glory…I can’t experience that simple hug from God…that deeply profound intimacy found from hearing God go…”You see this…I forgive this too…and you see this…I died for that as well….I knew all of this was here…and much like Adam and Eve hid behind fig leaves…and hid from me….you too thought you could hide from me…but the reality was that Adam and Eve weren’t hiding from me…and neither were you…you both were hiding from yourself…choosing to live in a false reality….”

And for all of us I believe the compassionate and furious love of God is yelling out from his bowels…the deepest parts of God…he’s yelling…”come to me…come…feel the fire of my compassion…”

And when we finally recognize that we, like Paul, are the chief of sinners, and let the fury of God’s love in…we will join with Paul, and becoming a fool for Christ running like a madman through the streets…and we will no longer see people as “less”..we won’t see hookers, drug-addicts, and those addicted to porn, or those sleeping with their neighbors wife, or tax collectors, or those addicted to reading US weekly, or those that love to gossip by calling it a prayer group…we will see them all as those dehydrated and thirsty for the love, grace, and compassion for God…and we will yell…join with me fellow brothers and sisters…for I know the well of compassion and it runs deep…deeper than your sin…feel no shame…for in the line of compassion to fill your thirsty heart and soul…I will be standing in line behind you, because I need it more than you.

David Leo Schultz


~ by David Leo Schultz on October 27, 2015.

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