Friday, May 04, 2007

Friendships Forged in Compassion

I was thinking the other day, about the things in my heart that cause me to connect with others in deep and special ways.

This came about because there is somebody I am not particularly close to... in fact I barely know them (a rueful neglect I am keen to amend), who I have suddenly felt highly compassionate towards. The change in my attitude came through a simple kind gesture of comfort (a hug) between us last week, although to be perfectly honest I'm not totally sure who was comforting who.

Reflecting back on that moment, it has suddenly hit me. My deepest friendships and relationships have always been cemented in compassion... through a shared experience when either myself, or the other person has been suffering and the other gave comfort. In truth, I think some people would be very surprised to know how closely I regard them... and there are other friends who think they are close... but really have barely scratched the surface and are not in the same league as "the few".

It all reminds me of something the apostle Paul once said:

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
Philippians 3:10-11
It sounds a little masochistic doesn't it? However I believe what Paul is talking about... is striving to know God in a deeper way. Sometimes the price of that is very high... and Paul knew all about that. Jailed, beaten, flogged, rejected and eventually beheaded for the Gospel... he truly did put his relationship with God, above his own personal welfare.

I think you'd find it very hard to argue that Paul had a deep friendship with God.

Furthermore it says in scripture:

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

He draws near to people who are in pain and takes compassion on them. People forget that when Lazarus died, Jesus didn't just casually walk up to the tomb and raise him from the dead... he was "deeply moved" and "troubled in spirit first". In fact the shortest verse in the Bible comes from that passage... and although in modern society it has been abused and relegated to a cuss phrase when something goes wrong... still it remains one of the most moving revelations of Jesus as a person:

"Jesus wept."
Luke 11:35

So God shares in our pain and comes close to us when we are hurting, if only we let him.

So you might be thinking... "oh great! If I want God to love me... I have to get the crud beaten out of me"; however, that is not what I am saying.

Remember I said earlier that my strongest friendships were based on times when either myself or the other person suffered and the other had compassion.

God desired our love and compassion so much, he became the suffering party... through his son Jesus. For me personally, Christ's sacrifice binds me to him above all others. No one has suffered as much for me and nobody loves me as much as him. nobody is as deserving of my love as him.

If you wish to experience that love, it is all there for you to take. All you need to do is recognise that you aren't right with God, repent of the way you have lived. Then, believe in Jesus and take him at his word. If he settles your account it is finished.

I realise that makes it sound like a recipe for making a cake but it really is that simple... as long as you are earnest in doing it.



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