It was one of those backhanded compliments. The guy had listened to me talk during several sessions at a pastors' conference. All he knew about me was what he'd heard in the past few days.
It was one of those backhanded compliments. The guy had listened to me talk during several sessions at a pastors' conference. All he knew about me was what he'd heard in the past few days: ex-marine . . . schooled in an independent seminary . . . committed to biblical exposition . . . noncharismatic . . . premil . . . pretrib . . . pro this . . . anti that.
Toward the end of the week, he decided to drink a cup of coffee with me and risk saying it straight. It went something like this: "You don't fit. You've got the roots of a fundamentalist, but you don't sound like it. Your theology is narrow, but you're not rigid. You take God seriously, but you laugh like there's no tomorrow. You have definite convictions, but you aren't legalistic and demanding." Then he added: "Even though you're a firm believer in the Bible, you're still having fun, still enjoying life. You've even got some compassion!"
"You've even got some compassion!" Like, if you're committed to the truth of Scripture, you shouldn't get that concerned about people stuff—heartaches, hunger, illness, fractured lives, insecurities, failures, and grief—because those are only temporal problems. Mere horizontal hassles. Leave that to others. Our main job is to give 'em the gospel. Get 'em saved!
Be honest now. Isn't that the way it usually is? Isn't it a fact that the more conservative one becomes, the less compassionate? I want to know why. Why either-or? Why not both-and? I'd also like to know when we departed from the biblical model. When did we begin to ignore Christ's care for the needy?
Maybe when we realized that one is much easier than the other. It's also faster. When you don't concern yourself with being your brother's keeper, you don't have to get dirty or take risks or lose your objectivity or run up against the thorny side of an issue that lacks easy answers.
And what will happen when we traffic in such compassion? The Living Bible says, "Then the Lord will be your delight, and I will see to it that you ride high, and get your full share of the blessings I promised to Jacob, your father" (Isa. 58:14).
If you really want to "ride high, and get your full share of the blessings," prefer compassion to information. We need both, but in the right order.
Come on, let's break the mold and surprise 'em. That's exactly what Jesus did with you and me and a whole bunch of other sinners who deserved and expected a full dose of condemnation, but got compassion instead.
Others won't care how much we know until they know how much we care.