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The Gospel Demands RADICAL Compassion

posted 8 Apr 2012, 08:38 by Peter Booth
Let me start off and say that if you are not challenged by this video, then you haven't been listening to what is being said. Over the last couple of weeks I've been talking with one or two of you about related issues, and I may have mentioned a quote previously posted on this blog which has challenged me a lot, which is this from John Piper: "Lives are a vapour, eternity is long, heaven is ecstatic with joy, hell is horrific with pain. - These are the great realities." 

It is so easy to get caught up in the trivialities of this life and this world and lose perspective on what is truly important. It is so easy to become cold and apathetic to the eternal realities of the lives of those around us - that's a polite way of saying that it's so easy not to care (or at least live as though we don't) that most of the people around us are going to hell. That's what the Bible says; that's the cold hard truth. But we can live as though we either do not know that, or we do not believe it, or we do not care. 

Several years ago in the Christian Union I heard something which made me pray the following: "Break my heart oh Lord for the things your heart is broken for." In other words may my heart be broken with compassion for the lost. In Mark 6, we see Jesus and his disciples preparing to take some time out from ministry to rest (v.31). In v.33 though it says that many people saw them go off in the boat and ran ahead of them to the desolate place to which they were travelling. Now if it were me stepping out of that boat looking for a spot to rest, I might get a little bit frustrated that there was a "great crowd" (v.34) waiting. I'd probably want to tell them to get lost and leave me in peace, or at least I might find an excuse to 'go fishing' back on to the lake in peace. What does Jesus do? Well in a sense he does go fishing, but not in a boat. Verse 34 helps us out: "When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things." What follows in the passage is Jesus' miracle of feeding of the 5000 - that was some "great crowd!" Jesus saw a sinfully lost people going to a painfully lost eternity, and he displayed radical compassion and radical obedience to God's mission, culminating at the cross. He calls us to do the same, and follow him.

We need to be watchful and prayerful that we do not grow apathetic, or rather that we stop being apathetic! Whilst Jesus was praying in Gethsemane leading up to the cross, he said to his disciples (and so he says to us) in Mark 14: ""Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.""

The missionary Amy Carmichael said this: "You can give without loving. You cannot love without giving. To finish, J.Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China, said these words: "Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest; heaven so real that we must have men there." Amen, so be it, for God's glory to the ends of the earth. 
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