Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Reflection on this Sunday's New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 2:1-10

We need compassion.

I mean profoundly theological and spiritual compassion like that expressed to the Ephesians. “You, we, us, and them” all jumble together: “You were dead…we were by nature children of wrath, like everybody else…by grace you have been saved through faith…so that no one may boast.”

Kendall Harmon writes that we are a church under judgment. He notes that we’ve all contributed to the catastrophe through “things done and left undone.” At the same time, Ephesians says that “we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Compassion for those who seem dead and under wrath can lead to hope that they, so much like us, can be saved by grace through faith, and step into good works that Christ has waiting for all his people.

Compassion also brings tactical and strategic applications to Christian life.

A few decades ago, I took part in a major military exercise in the California desert. I was one of three guys with the training and security clearances needed to run our Battalion Tactical Operations Center radios. Then the Umpires of the exercise declared one of our threesome “killed” and another was captured by the opposing force. Young, strong and stupid, I stayed up running the radios for almost three days. Because we were able to maintain communications, we evaded an enemy effort to capture our command center.

Compassion is a tactic by which we evade capture. Satan wants to grab us for his accusation campaign against the people and their bunch of problems. But compassion keeps us in communication with Christ, who tells us that we have been in their place and gets us away from Satan’s trap.

And more than providing a defensive tactic, compassion can contribute to our offensive strategy. It positions us to connect with others, to expand God’s influence among people with a bunch of problems.

Might we upgrade our compassion training?

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