Several current issues and events are colliding in my brain this morning, so please forgive me as I use this blog to invite you into the scattered energy of my brain. Enter at your own risk!
It’s not really that bad, but the dramatic side of me sometimes needs an outlet. Basically I just have several things on my mind and I think in some ways they connect. Let’s see if I can explain.
First on my mind is the Chick-fil-A (CFA) brouhaha. If you don’t know, the president of CFA, Dan Cathy, said in an interview that he believed marriage should be as stated by Jesus in the gospel, that in the beginning human beings were created male and female and when they marry they become one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6). Now, this is not necessarily the end-all-be-all to the debate, but it is biblical. On the other side are those who have great love for their LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) friends and family and are appalled at CFA for holding such an opinion. Many of these are Christians who want to be open to the many ways God creates us and operate out of the biblical mandate to offer the love and acceptance of Christ to all. The result has been a family feud among Christians to see who can make the other feel worse about their stance and their rhetoric.
Now comes part one of the odd mixture part of my thinking. Coupled with this CFA uproar and counter-uproar is my thinking about our church’s upcoming Missions Dinner (August 12th at 6pm). The theme of the night is “Serving with Compassion“. It will be a night to tell stories of how God was at work in us and through us allowing us to serve others in many ways. I love the word COMPASSION to describe how we serve at Asbury. It is one of our most deeply held values and the word aptly points to the heartache we have for those who are in need.
Part three in my brain’s molecular train wreck is our upcoming building campaign. We are getting underway with our campaign to raise the funds to expand our meeting space. It’s not very “sexy” work and the campaign will be challenging in regard to helping people catch the vision. The additional space will allow us to do more in regard to making a place for people to come and get connected to other followers of Jesus and to grow spiritually in greater ways. It will make room for us to engage new people in ways we just cannot right now based on the space we have.
I think about Kim who came and visited our church yesterday. She is young and single and living in nearby apartments. Right now there is no group that meets that would have a natural affinity for her. That makes me think about other young adults who are either newly married or not married yet but who are also out of college and living nearby – we do have TWO new apartment complexes within 1.5 miles of the church! Wouldn’t it be great if we could start a group and reach out to some of these people?
I even think about young families we have in the area who are visiting the church. We do have some groups that might fit them. However, having been that young couple in a new church, I remember how tough it was to enter into an established group with established relationships. People don’t mean to exclude you, and maybe they don’t, but you still feel like an outsider. New groups forming would give new families a chance to develop new connections and to find a place to grow spiritually. After all, every class we have now once benefited from being a new group for new people.
Okay, so let’s see if I can bring this together. In my head, as I think about each of these things the same word keeps coming to mind. It’s the word I mentioned earlier, the word that is a core value at Asbury UMC. That word is COMPASSION.
Whether we are trying to decide how we want to respond to Chic-Fil-A, or seeking to find a way to serve others, or even deciding to put our funds into this new building program, the main issue is this – how do I act with compassion?
You see, compassion means I have to consider others more than myself. Compassion means I have to not just cling to my stance on same-sex marriage, but I have to consider how I do that and how it feels to others around me. When my heart goes out to others – whether I agree with them or not – it impacts how I interact with them. Compassion means finding ways to serve that don’t simply fit into my already busy schedule. When my heart goes out to others and I realize that I have so much to give and others have so much they need, I begin to rearrange my priorities and my calendar so I can give more of myself and my resources. Compassion means that I look beyond the dollar signs of a building campaign and I look beyond my own agenda for the church and I offer myself and my resources so that others can know the life in Christ that I know. It means we offer ourselves in leadership and we offer our financial gifts to make it happen. When our heart goes out to those in our neighborhood who need a place to grow spiritually, when we act out of compassion for others, we say “we may not need this for us, but we’ll do it for you.”
So, there’s where I am today. I am looking at the values of the followers of Jesus known as Asbury UMC and I see compassion staring me in the face. Then I look at what’s going on in our world and in our church and I see compassion as this common denominator of our call to live as followers of Jesus Christ. I see the potential of all the celebration we can enjoy and the people we can love when we live out the ideal of a compassionate life.
I guess that’s it. I will leave you with that word for you to ponder. How can you live a more compassionate life? Who around you needs to know they are loved in such a way that someone is willing to put aside their agenda, their schedule, and their self-focused attitude?
Let’s make COMPASSION a priority. I think it will change us as God uses us to change the lives of others.
Holy high-five to you,