Jesus' Heart of Compassion
Matthew 9:35-38 Contemporary English Version (CEV) Jesus went to every town and village. He taught in their meeting places and preached the good news about God’s kingdom. Jesus also healed every kind of disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he felt sorry for them. They were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in.”
What a timely message we heard this morning! We are apparently in the midst of a pandemic. All of the countries of this globe are brought together because of a common illness. It is a time of stress, illness, and blame. Who's fault is this virus? Can we blame someone so that our anger over having our lives sent into upheaval has somewhere to rest? We fear an adversary that we can't even see. How can we fight?
Like the crowds that Jesus felt sorry for, the people are confused and helpless. Like Jesus, we feel sorry for them. Unlike Jesus, we tend to leave it at that. Somehow, over two thousand years later, there are still only a few workers. How can this be?
At the beginning of this year, Rev. Singleton told us all to get out of the church. That might sound strange, coming from a pastor. If you had ever seen the size of our church, you would be even more concerned. We are a pretty small group. If anyone leaves, it makes a pretty good-sized hole. But she did have a method to her madness. She wasn't sending us out to get rid of us, but to put us to work.
You see, those of us who know Jesus have a very special job to do. We are to make disciples. Disciples are students or followers. We are to make followers of Jesus. How can we do this if we are all stuck together within the four walls of a church building? How can anyone follow us to Christ if we're not going anywhere, and how can they be students if we're not teaching them?
When we became Christians, we were given Jesus' heart of compassion for the lost. But compassion, like love, is worth nothing if it is not accompanied by action. People are stressed out right now. Everything is in upheaval. No-one knows when it is going to get back to normal. In our county, the schools are all suspended for at least two weeks. Colleges are closed. Some people are losing work, and some all of a sudden have too much work to do. We are not allowed to meet in public if there are more than 20 people in the group. People are afraid because there are a lot of things about this virus that we don't know. If there was ever a world that needed a savior, this is it.
As Christians, we need to be part of the solution. We have the peace of God, and can share that with others. We can be there to help our neighbors. As the church, we have the heart of God, but we are also the body of Christ. With Jesus as our head, we are the feet that go where He needs us to go. We are the hands that do His work. We carry His Word to the world. Matthew 9:12-13 reads: But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (NASB) Our job is not to spend all of our time and effort taking care of the church. We are meant to expand the church! We are to make disciples. We are to find the lost sheep and bring them into the fold so that we can take care of them!
According to the World Population Review, in 2015 approximately 1/3 of the world was Christian. This tells me two things: First, we are not in the majority. Second, we should have enough people to reach the other 2/3! In the United States, the statistic was 71% Christian. Why do people still not know who Jesus is? Right now, people are afraid and hurting. The field is ready to harvest. It is time to call the workers. So, as Rev. Singleton said, get out of the building and work!
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