I am reading the book, “Divine Embrace” by Ken Gire. I suggest you pick up a copy and read it. He writes a paragraph in his book on page 72 that shook my senses. He states and these are his words,
“I think of Jesus and the people he gravitated toward, and it wasn’t the rich, or the powerful, the intelligent or beautiful, the gifted or the influential. By and large, it was just the opposite. He had a tender heart for the hurting, and gravitated toward them. Whether the hurt was physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, moral, social, or relational, it didn’t seem to matter. He was always kind to them, to each and every one of them. “
I immediately went to my thoughts and began to think about the people I am gravitated toward. Who is it that I seek out? I am involved in a lot of different groups and attend many different events. Some of them I speak at, some I am a participant and at other times I am an observer. How often have I gravitated to those who are influential, rich, or powerful or beautiful, or …? I can honestly say the gifted and the intelligent often intimidate me. They are so intelligent and gifted that I am afraid they will see the many flaws I have.
Jesus looks past the outer shell of people and sees their heart. Money doesn’t buy Jesus’ love. You can’t use your power to influence Jesus nor can you out smart him. He often stands with the wall flowers, those picked last in sports; he’s found in hospitals and drug rehabs, jails and those places we often turn away from.
When Jesus was walking on this earth you didn’t find him with any of those mentioned above. He walked with prostitutes, robbers, fishermen, and those with leprosy and those who were in need of healing.
Who do I walk with? Who do I turn from? One Sunday our Pastor preached on the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37 . We all know the story. We know the Levite and the priest did not care for the man who was beaten. I believe it was Christ living through the Samaritan who noticed, cared for, and loved the other others ignored. It’s a perfect example for me. If I want to be Christ like I must notice those who are in need of a friend, those who need just a kind word even it if is just, “Hello”, or those who need to know they are beautiful even if the world tells them they aren’t.
Loving God and loving others was what Christ taught; but, more than that He taught us about empathy. Empathy is understanding, sympathy, compassion and I love this definition responsiveness. He understood what it felt like to lose someone and He felt compassion as the woman touched the robe of His garment. He responded in love. He loved those folks others thought were unlovable or often turned away from.
If I want to be like Christ I must understand the needs of others, I must sympathize with them and feel their pain, I must be compassionate and above all I am to love.
It’s so easy to be in a crowd whether at church, at a party or any gathering and gravitate to those who make us feel good, those who we want to influence or those who have something to offer us, but it’s a lot harder to walk over to the one who is being ignored and set aside, but that is exactly what Christ did. That’s what we are called to do. Will it be easy? Will our friends object or make fun of us? Maybe, but do we want to be like Christ or do we want to be like the Priest and the Levite? I am thinking most of us want to be like the Samaritan, but we are afraid of what people will say, what our friends will think or about the harm that could come to us.
Christ put aside those foolish thoughts and did what all of us are called to do…gravitate to those unwanted, those wall flowers, those left standing last, and those who are uncomfortable to look at. Christ calls us into empathy and calls us to love. Christ calls us to take notice and provide what is needed (from Pastor Kay’s sermon).
Christ is calling us to be Christ like. So when you’re in a group next time who will you gravitate to? Who will I gravitate to? Will we look for the wallflower, will we look for the one standing alone, and will we look for the one that is hurting and lost? Will I? Or will I glance that way and turn towards those that that has it all together? You know the life of the party; the ones that may be gifted, intelligent and rich and influential?
I have choices to make. You have choices to make. May we be like Christ and the Samaritan and take pity on those who need us to love them just as Christ loves them. May we offer the kind words that Christ at one time has shared with us. It’s tough, but then living fully for Christ, with Christ and Christ living through us is never easy.
Dear God: I often gravitate to those who will help me, make me feel good, or compliment me in some way. I often turn from those who are wall flowers, those standing last in the line, or those who I fear. I often turn away and do not take pity on them. You showed us how to love, but you also showed us what empathy for others was. Help me to take notice of those around me who are in need and help me to provide for them even if it is only my attention or a kind word. Help me to be like the Samaritan and be Christ like and not the Levite or Priest. Amen