We all have friends and family and if they have an emergency, we love them so we’d drop everything to do whatever we can for them.
When we face emergencies in our lives, that’s when we learn what is important and what really isn’t. A funeral is one of the best classrooms because you see that in the face of death, we ought to invest our lives in things that last.
I taught this text yesterday at Oxy and John taught this at Caltech. And there are important lessons to be learned, but I think it is especially meaningful in this kind of setting, among a group of us who have been walking with Jesus and walking together for a number of years.
A week from this past Friday, we got a call from a couple at our church and their 2 year old daughter was sick. Their doctor thought it could be meningitis. And we were on our way to Oxy bible study and our hearts just sank.
I kind of felt it was the first emergency we faced as a church without the Parks so I felt really nervous and scared.
And looking back on this week, I am really thankful that I am part of a church where we naturally would drop everything for one another.
Because a problem hits one of us and an interruption hits and we don’t see it as an interruption because we love one another. We gladly drop everything for the person we love. One person suffers and we all suffer. One person rejoices and we all rejoice. This is how the disciples following Jesus lived. This was the first church. And I am thankful that we can also go through life’s challenges together.
In this passage, however, God raises the standard. Jesus looks at a crowd and he feels compassion. That’s like being stuck on the 405 and being compassionate.
And if even one person adds a bundle of interruptions to our lives, what about a crowd of people?
Who can have compassion and be interrupted all the time? It’s impossible. It is the same feeling of impossibility that the disciples must have felt when faced with this crowd of 5,000 people. How can we feed them? We have barely enough food to feed a few people.
A life of compassion is a life of constant interruptions. Impossible. Esp. in LA, we are surrounded with crowds all the time.
How can we possibly show compassion each and every time we face a person in need?
Jesus could have zapped stones to bread but it was important for him to involve the disciples. Because he wants to teach his disciples and all of us to share in his heart of compassion.
Jesus said, you feed them. Because through our obedience, he wants to teach us to be compassionate.
We are halfway there because we are willing to drop everything for those we love, including some in this church. I pray that out of the nameless crowd, God will add more people to this group and we will have the same heart of compassion to drop everything for a person in need.
This is how God stretches our heart’s capacity to love.