Compassion Not Perfection

by Ray Reuter on June 23, 2016

This post was inspired by Ron Rolheiser and the book, “Sacred Fire.”

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, the concept of striving for perfection is always out of reach and frankly exhausting. Recently I read that Jesus’ concept of perfection is very much identified with compassion. Good news! as compassion is a much more attainable goal.

Jesus thus challenges us to be compassionate as your Heavenly Father is compassionate. So what does that look like? In scripture it is clear that God allows the sun to shine on the bad as well as the good. There is no discrimination or condition to receive God’s love … God’s love simply embraces everything. Allowing that thought to sink in deeper, we come to the surprising truth that God cannot love us any more or any less. God loves us when we are good, and God loves us when we are bad. God loves those in heaven, and God equally loves those in hell. The difference is in our response.

Take the well known parable of the Prodigal Son. The father of the prodigal son and his older brother loves both equally, one in his weakness and the other in his bitterness. The father’s desire and invitation is not contingent upon any action on their part. The father’s love is consistent; the response of each son is different.

The objective then is to find the compassion and empathy to be able to embrace in a way that expresses love and understanding even as that embrace does not say that differences are of no importance. There is a time to stand up for what we believe in, to speak out, to draw a line in the sand, to confront, to point out differences and the consequences of those differences, and to stand strong against forces that threaten the truth. And at the same time, we want to be open to our differences and love and respect one another even when we do not hold the same values. We hold our personal and moral ground in a gracious and loving way AND let our love and understanding welcome all. We intentionally search for what is common vs. what is different. This is being compassionate as God is compassionate, letting our sun shine indiscriminately on both the vegetables and the weeds … without denying which is which.







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