As we continue through the Gospel According to Mark we see Jesus choose to engage, rather than avoid, marginalized individuals. We've asked some members to share what this means to them and how it impacts their daily lives.
Over the past few weeks, Pastor Bryan has been teaching from Mark 2:1-17 where Jesus engaged with two individuals who were heavily marginalized within their culture: a paralytic and a tax collector. This was a normal mark of Jesus’ life. Jesus never considered the outcast a nuisance, an inconvenience, or as somehow getting in the way of His ministry. Instead, Jesus made it abundantly clear that this was His ministry: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). And, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 10:19). This offers us a fresh lens with which to approach the marginalized: COMPASSION.
The word “compassion” literally means, “to suffer with.” But, unfortunately, many of us often view compassion as a feeling or sentiment that we should have toward others in a needy position. If I see a homeless person, then compassion, so we say, is to feel sympathy for that person. But when we look at the way of Jesus, we realize this is not enough. Compassion is not merely feeling sympathetic toward someone; it is an actual suffering with.
True compassion is not something that can be done at arm’s length. Instead, like Jesus, we must dive in and enter into the suffering of others.
Wait what?? Say again? We have to take part in suffering? We don’t want that. Who wants that? We have enough suffering on our own. We want comfort. We want easy.
But compassion is neither… It is not easy; it is not comfortable. And it rubs directly against the very fabric of American life. It rubs directly against the very fabric of our lives. Nice neighborhood, nice home, nice clothes, nice car, nice mountains, nice things.
Now I’m not saying these things are inherently wrong; but often inordinately desiring and longing for such things hinders us from compassionately suffering with those who are normally avoided in society.
And this is why we need Jesus. To show us why He came and what He is about. What GOD is about. For when we behold Jesus, we behold God! (Jn. 1:14, 18), and, as a result, we see what we—as God’s people—should be about.
You see, Jesus did not merely look at the paralytic or at the tax collector; He does not merely look at you and me—in our desperate and needy situation as sinners—and simply send some ethereal sympathetic thoughts our way. NO!! He looked at our situation and willingly left His position of heavenly comfort, entering right into the very heart of our need. God entered our godlessness. The sinless One chose to be surrounded by sin. Perfect came down to the imperfect. All so that He might redeem our sin in His life, death and resurrection! For in His life, we see perfect righteousness. In His death, the payment for sin. In His resurrection, victory over Satan and hell!
This is what we need: To remember that we ourselves are needy. No longer do we view those on the fringe with a distant eye. Instead, we engage with them in their need because Jesus has engaged us in our need. Jesus did not avoid us in our sin. He came to earth to love us and pour himself out to save us from sin! And now He commands us in grace to do the same (Matthew 25:40-46).
So I ask myself: Do I love the marginalized? Am I merciful? Am I compassionate? Why? Because Jesus loved the marginalized. Jesus was merciful. Jesus was compassionate. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, befriended the outcast, opened the ears of the deaf. Because Jesus reached out to paralytics and tax collectors and drew them into the sphere of His love! Because Jesus touched the untouchable; loved the unlovable; forgave the unforgivable; and welcomed the undesirable. Because Jesus, even now, saves the otherwise un-savable! (Beautiful Eulogy, "Blessed are the Merciful").
And is it because they deserve it? Not a chance. For as Scripture says: “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for humanity appeared, He saved us—NOT on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness…” NOT on the basis of helping those who help themselves. Not on the basis of our effort. NOT on the basis of our obedience. NOT on the basis of our success in life. But “according to His MERCY”! (Titus. 3:5)
This, my friend, is why we compassionately engage with the marginalized. Because, apart from the compassion of Christ, we are all marginalized before God… How can we not now respond in the same way?
Next week another member, Andy Kinomoto (Kino), will share what it has practically looked like for him to live a lifestyle of engaging the marginalized. Be sure to check back as we continue this series!