Late last summer, after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton and Odessa, I began writing about growing our compassion. I firmly believe that if we work more diligently, with God’s help, at seeing other people and the situations in which we find ourselves as Jesus would see, the world will be better.
Compassion requires us to see and be present (even with proper physical distancing) to other people. Compassion requires us to seek to understand the other person’s circumstance. Compassion requires us to acknowledge the Image of God in every person.
Compassion isn’t about deciding whose “side” we are on. Compassion is seeing all “sides” through the eyes of Jesus so that there aren’t any more “sides” but instead we see human beings created in the Image of God.
This past Sunday was Trinity Sunday and I talked about how the Trinity is our ultimate model of community and unity. We are all created in the image of the Trinitarian God and are part of something so much bigger than ourselves. The upheaval sparked by the death of George Floyd is the result of years and decades and centuries of humans losing this theology. The “rugged individualism” that we preach in this country is the antithesis of the Trinity. Individualism creates a world of constant competition: “I have to fight for what’s mine. I have to be better than everyone else. I have to push others down to lift myself up. My life/possessions/ideas/beliefs are threatened by your very existence.”
Living into our trinitarian theology says we are all in this together seeking the greater good for every human being. Trinitarian theology says life is a companionable journey, not a competitive fight to the death. We each make the Body of Christ whole. We are most fully human when we live in community and unity as God created us to live. We are most like Jesus when we see the pain and hurt in other people and are moved to help alleviate it.
Deepening our compassion requires us to look at our own responses to the situations we find ourselves in and ask ourselves some tough questions: is my response self-serving or for the greater good, why do I respond that way, why do I think that way? When we catch ourselves defending the way things are, we need to ask ourselves why am I engaging in this debate, what am I afraid I’ll lose if things change? When we want to stay in the comfort of silence, we must remind ourselves that Jesus calls us to take a stand and speak the truth of God’s love.
I am trying to be fully aware that as I write I’m bringing along my own prejudices with having grown up in white privilege. The only way I can fix that is to look deep in myself and with God’s help pray for healing of my own brokenness. It’s going to be a tough journey but I know together we can do it. I want to do it, I don’t have a choice any more.
Stop taking sides and take a stand for the truth of God’s love. We best reveal God’s image in us by seeing it in others.