Honestly, I didn’t want to get a puppy. I didn’t want to adjust my life to the additional work load. I knew I’d be the one taking on the bulk of the training, the nagging of the children to follow through with walks and feeding. Even as I write this, the puppy is prancing by with one of the kids’ backpacks apparently fulfilling the excuse of “the dog ate my homework”. I have to purposefully remind myself of the good things he brings to our lives and one of those good things is that he gets me out walking in my neighbourhood. It’s not just the walking though; he’s cute and friendly so people stop to meet him and it’s the meeting of my neighbours that’s the really good part.
The lady up the way whose husband had a stroke and her grown children live far away, the daughter with the bad news boyfriend who’s dropped out of school and struggling with addictions, the husband (and therefore wife) managing with PTS. One doesn’t have to look very far to see sorrow and pain in our world. Just taking the dog for a walk has recently uncovered hurts and struggles as I’ve stopped to chat with neighbours. Neighbours all around us, within our kids’ schools and teams, our community, our gyms and grocery stores, within our workplaces, the offices and waiting rooms, within our churches and our own homes.
This February, as we’ve been thinking about love, I’ve been considering its expression in compassion. An active kind of love that allows us to burden bear with others, to sympathize, empathize, and suffer alongside while motivating us to go out of our way to help. I’ve been drawn back to the story of the good samaritan which begins with a question from a lawyer asking how he’s to inherit eternal life. When Jesus concurs that he is to love the Lord with ALL he’s got and to love his neighbour as himself, the lawyer in his determination to justify himself and find a potential loophole asks Jesus to define ‘neighbour’. Jesus then tells the story found in Luke 10:30-37, a story about us and a story about Jesus who is our Good Samaritan when we are dead in our sin, beaten, broken and vulnerable, off course. Jesus has compassion on us in our depraved condition and actively tends to our wounds, lifts us out of the ditch and pays for our healing.
Our God is FULL of compassion AND He holds the power to act on it. While there will be times we want to help others, often we will lack the knowledge, the resources or the strength to do so. This is not true of God.
In His compassion towards us, He sent His Son, Jesus to die for our sins and to redeem and heal our brokenness. It is because we can clothe ourselves with Christ’s compassion (Colossians 3:12,13), that we can love not only with words, but also with action and in truth.
And so, to finish the story of the Good Samaritan, we can do likewise, in expressing compassionate love to the neigbours around us as we engage with them, seeing them with the eyes of Christ through the Holy Spirit in us. Whether or not you choose to get a puppy…