How do we get the compassion of Christ? Part 1

We have seen from Linda how important compassion is, yet it is not easy to get. You can’t just think yourself into being compassionate. How do we get Christ’s compassion? Scriptures suggests that it is our own struggles that work in us the compassion Linda talked about.

It is true that it can be particularly tough having compassion when we ourselves are struggling. It is hard to think of others when we have such great needs ourselves.

However it need not be the case. We can move on from our needs, not belittling them, pretending they are not there, not mind over matter, but by recognising that our sufferings are not the end of the story. That is experience of the saints over the centuries and the teaching of Paul particularly in 2 Corinthians.

Following Paul’s conversion Ananias was told by the Lord to go Paul.

Go This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Acts 9v15, 16.

Suffering, trouble was predicted at the start of his ministry and was what defined it. 2 Corinthians contains Paul’s reflection on the impact on him of this suffering.

In particular Paul concluded that receiving God’s compassion and comfort in our troubles is what equips us to offer compassion and comfort to others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1v3,4

Paul is not talking theoretically, but from personal experience. He gives an example.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. 2 Corinthians 1v8,9.

Many, including myself, feel that the struggles Paul had were with depression. He was delivered them from that, and through the experience he learnt to rely on God.

My personal experience is those who have suffered much love much. Those who have experienced God’s comfort in difficulties have a depth of compassion others don’t have. It is especially true for those who have suffered in some way with mental illness, which is true for 25% of the population! But not just mental illness, other difficulties are used by God to help us grow in compassion. Paul’s reflections are that it is our difficulties that equip and grow us. As we embrace them we find compassion for others.

This is in total contrast to those who see troubles and difficulties as a sign that something is wrong and shouldn’t be happening to us because we are sons of God. Such thoughts have always been present, even in Paul’s day, even in Corinth to whom he is writing. Paul’s teaching is totally different, our suffering is used by God.

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

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Why Compassion? Part 3

Why Luton?

What have the stories and my journey with love got to do with us and us loving Luton and showing compassion to Luton?  Well I realised we are good at loving people who are easy to love or people who we feel deserve love, people who face difficult/ horrible situations but who we decide are innocent…

 

But it is far harder to love people who abuse our compassion, who abuse and hurt others.  Compassion for those we think deserve it or who we decide are innocent is far easier to feel than compassion for those we decide are undeserving.  Luton is a town full of people stamped with the words undeserving… Be it extremism in any form, prostitution, pimping, drugs, adultery, hate crimes, gang crime, murder, rape… I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg.

 

Yet the heart of the gospel is one of love and compassion but do we really believe it?  Do we really want to live it?  Because living it is costly, loving and showing compassion to damaged people is costly.  But will we count the cost and chose to love?  Showing compassion… demonstrating compassion is a choice… Each of us has the choice of demonstrating the Father’s heart to those who are undeserving of it.

 

Yes Lewis Daynes must face the consequences of his sin but despite that will we still choose to fight for him? To love him? To demonstrate to him the same compassion that has been shown to us?  Do we deserve the love and compassion of Jesus? No but it’s here for us… In the same way that love is here for people like my brother Lewis Daynes, through us- through the way we demonstrate the compassion and love of Christ.

 

 

Loving Luton is more than saying the words, or choosing the bits we like or suit us to love.  I love Luton but I won’t associate with those people… Those foreigners, those extremists, those drug dealers, those haters…

 

Loving Luton is seeing what’s there, who’s there – seeing the person by the side of the road lying in all their filth and stench and loving that person.  The brother or sister God has placed in front of us.  We share the same Dad.

 

 

Written by Linda

Linda Geevanathan is responsible for youth & children's work at Hope Church, and a part-time teacher

Linda Geevanathan is a part-time teacher & responsible for Youth & Children’s work at Hope Church

Why Compassion? Part 2

A few weeks ago I was watching the news when one story particularly stuck out to me.  It was the story of Breck Bednar a 14 year old boy who met a young man through online gaming built a friendship with him and was later manipulated, hurt and killed by the young man, 19 year old Lewis Daynes.

 

For days after watching the story I kept waking up early in the morning and I would pray for Breck’s family, his friends, young people who are involved in the gaming community… all sorts of things that I felt led by the Spirit to pray for.

 

Then one morning I woke up as usual to pray and I felt God ask me a question, Linda what if that was your brother who committed the crime… and immediately I responded by saying No God my brother would never do that.  But God persisted; he said what if he had.

 

I then made myself imagine my brother Dan after such a crime and I said to God I am devastated by it, disgusted by it and I felt sickened to even think of it.  God then nudges me, how would you feel about your brother if he had committed that crime.  And I knew instantly I said Lord I would be disgusted by what he’d done, angry and sick at heart, I know he would have to face the consequences of his sin but Lord he’s my brother, I love him and so despite hating what he’d done I’d stand with him and fight for him with every thing in me.

 

Then I felt God remind me; Linda I knit you together in your mother’s womb, I know every hair on your head and every breath that you take.  I have a good plan for your life and you’re so precious to me.  You are my daughter.

 

Then He says Linda I knit Lewis Daynes together in his mother’s womb.  I know every hair on his head and every breath that he takes.  I have a good plan for his life and he is so precious to me.  He is my son.

 

And then it hit me hard in the heart… I saw what God was subtly telling me but I didn’t want to face it.  God showed me the scene from the Good Samaritan and I see Lewis Daynes beaten and broken by the side of the road.  And I’m walking by and God says to me Linda will you stop?  And I’m battling with God, I can’t stop Lord because the stench and filth is just too much, he is disgusting, unclean, I just can’t stop… the stench of evil is just so strong, it feels too strong.  And God says Linda look at him and tell me what you see… Look!

 

And I’m struggling because I can’t see the person, I see filth and unclean.

 

And God says Linda does he deserve forgiveness?  My immediate answer is NO.

Then God says do you deserve forgiveness?  And I hesitate because I know the answer, it’s hitting me in the face. ‘No Lord I don’t’

 

Look at the man by the roadside and who do you see?

I looked and for the first time I saw, I saw my brother. It was like a light went on, a heavenly light and I realised that I Linda Geevanathan share the same dad as Lewis Daynes.  He is my brother.  And suddenly I saw what God had been gently showing me.  Just like I would fight with everything in me for my brother Dan or my brother Dave, or for anyone of the brothers and sisters I have  in this church, in the same I am called to see my brother Lewis and fight for him the only ways I can.  I can’t hold his hand or hug him, I will probably never meet him but I have been fighting for him, with love and with prayer…

It’s feels like an affront, I know and I am in no way condoning what he has done, just like I wouldn’t condone the sin of anyone but that does not stop me from seeing my brother being moved by compassion for him and fighting for him.

 

Written by Linda

Linda Geevanathan is responsible for youth & children's work at Hope Church, and a part-time teacher

Linda Geevanathan is a part-time teacher & responsible for Youth & Children’s work at Hope Church

Why Compassion? Part 1

Let me tell you a story that I hope will explain.

 

Dan is a young man, in his early 20’s who lives in Bedford.  His cousin Jono was visiting from Australia so Dan decided to take him for a night out in London.  They get to the club in London where they meet up with some of Dan’s friends and they are having a good time.  They have quite a bit to drink and somewhere in the midst of all this Dan loses his cousin and his friends.

 

Dan makes a decision to walk to the train station and catch the next train back to Bedford.  On his way there he is beaten unconscious by a group of young men.  They steal Dan’s wallet, phone, keys and coat, leaving him on the pavement.

 

The first person to walk by was a business man; he’s good guy who works incredibly long hours.  He has just spent the last six days working hard.  He leaves his home before his children wake up and arrives home late at night after they have gone to sleep.  Six days of the week, his work life looks like this and now he is looking forward to the next day, it’s Sunday his first day off all week and he knows he will spend it with his family; his wife and children.  He sees Dan lying by the side of the road and he has to make a decision.  Should he stop and help or should he catch the last train home so that he makes it back in time to spend the next day with his family.  His family are important to him, as they should be, so the business man decides to catch the train home.

 

Next a group of women walk by, they have just been to the theatre and only one of them really notices the body by the side of the road.  She stops and her friends move on.  She looks at Dan and thinks I really should help this person but she also is aware that the last train is heading back to Luton and she is on Kids’ work the next day, in fact she is leading the Kids’ work!  If she doesn’t get to church what will people say about her?  What will they think?  How will they view her?  And she has to make a decision, this is central London surely somebody will stop… does it have to be me?  She has to make the decision quickly and she chooses to leave Dan as he is.

 

The final man to walk by was a homeless man, he stops and he takes his coat off and he puts it over Dan.  He doesn’t have a phone so he asks someone walking by to please ring the emergency services.  He says “You don’t have to wait, I’ll stay with this man.” So someone rings the emergency services and the homeless man stays with Dan until they arrive, leaving him in their capable hands.

 

Who was Dan’s neighbour?

 

Now I made up three of the characters in this story but I didn’t make up Dan.

 

Dan is my brother and last November, he was beaten up and left unconscious in London and someone did stop.  My brother was the man by the side of the road and someone stopped for him.

 

Every one in need is someone else’s brother.

 

Written by Linda

Linda Geevanathan is responsible for youth & children's work at Hope Church, and a part-time teacher

Linda Geevanathan is a part-time teacher & responsible for Youth & Children’s work at Hope Church

Love Luton

Last year we received a prophetic word the essence of which was that we are to Love Luton.

3 phases were identified.

  1. We need to be healed and restored. Our grave clothes removed, washed clean ourselves. As happened to Lazarus after he was raised from the dead.
  2. We then need to be trained and prepared to help others to have their grave clothes removed.
  3. We then will be called to remove the grave clothes and to cleanse the people of Luton..

N.B. only God can call people out of the tomb, we partner with him when people have come out of the tomb.

The word also said where we were in that process. A time of healing and restorative cleaning was coming to the end for Hope Church, He is launching us into the phase of being trained and prepared to help others. We need to be ready for the 3rd phase, when we really start loving Luton.

Over the last 6 months we have been increasingly aware that we are in contact with more and more people in Luton.

We realise that we have to take this word very seriously, which we have been seeking to do within our Sunday meetings and through this serious of blogs.

In particular we are realising the importance of compassion, to love Luton we need the compassion of Christ. We may think we have it, however in practise we often find we do not.

 

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.