Look around they ain’t talking bout God in your city
We gotta reach em’, is any-body-here-with-me?
He say the people need something different (oh boy-tell em’)
I’m like “yeah,” what you gon’ give em’ (oh boy)
He say he got a message for the people (oh boy-tell em’)
Go to college and treat everybody equal (oh boy)
You should-get a-job (oh boy-tell em’)
You ain’t-gotta-rob (oh boy)
Stay pure, save yourself to your wedding day (oh boy-it’s a good thing)
He don’t put a ring on it then don’t let him play (oh boy-these are all good things)
That’s incomplete (facts)
That is not all people need (facts)
That does not make you unique
The state of his soul should be making you weep (facts)
Our message is more than a challenge (facts)
It’s more than we’re morally damaged (facts)
You should turn from your sin (facts) Cause He’s coming again (facts) And eternity hangs in the balance
Does anybody here believe that? I do! It is with those words that Flame has drawn the proverbial line in the sand distinguishing Bible-based, God-centered, eternity-driven Christian compassion from humanistic, man-centered, social concern that many contemporary church-goers pass off as “Christian compassion.” The lyrics above are from Flame’s song “Believe That” on his recently released Forward album.
I made the distinction above between Christians and church-goers because those two sets of people aren’t necessarily synonymous. Christians (followers of Christ as disciplined learners) are well acquainted with life’s grief, its struggles, pain, disappointments, challenges, losses, injustices, and other utterly despicable experiences that we often would rather not even think about, let alone mention to someone else. However, the most damning condition there is on this earth, one with which we Christians are all familiar, is living a life that is hell-bound.
We know what it’s like to live a purposeless, rudderless, vanity-chasing existence drowning in sin, guilt, and shame. But we also know what its like to transition from this darkness into His marvelous light by receiving the grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ. Because we know what its like to live without Christ in our lives, without the indwelling of Holy Spirit, it should be very difficult for us not to weep at the condition of a person who is bound for eternity absent of our LORD. Compassion for the condition of people’s souls is what moved Jesus to weep and to act. That same compassion should move His followers to weep and to act.
Today, many express concern for the temporal human condition without adequate concern for the eternal human condition. A “gospel” that addresses temporal human need and does not include the necessary life-giving component of repentance is no gospel at all. John 7:53-8:11 conveys the account where the Pharisees caught a woman in the middle of an adulterous act. The Pharisees then tried to test Jesus by confronting him publicly with this woman and submitting her to him for judgment, knowing the Jewish law of the day required her immediate execution by stoning. Jesus dealt with the woman’s would-be condemners so masterfully that that they went away one by one, “from the oldest to the youngest.” (John 8:9) They dispersed when Jesus said, “Let him who is sinless among you” be the first one to throw a stone at her. (John 8:7 Jesus then said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you.” (John 8:9-11)
Many live today as if this is the conclusion of the matter, as if the account ends here. The imminent threat of ruining, harming, or ending her life is ameliorated. Now everything is good. End of story. That’s it. Your life has gone from bad to better. You are a good person. Have a good day. The temporal problem has been solved.
Gloriously, however, that is not the end of the story. Jesus spoke to the woman once everyone else left. “Go your way and sin no more,” he said to her. (John 8:11) True Gospel conveyance requires repentance. True human compassion includes temporal and eternal concern. Jesus’ empathy for her temporal crisis compelled him to invite her to repentance. He did not stop at solving the immediate problem of a life in jeopardy. He presented to her a salvation of her life complete with repentance. His compassion did not rest at her temporal concern.
Skin color-based prejudice is wrong. Thugs committing robberies is wrong. It creates a sense of helplessness in its victims, and it often results in the perpetrators spending significant portions of their lives, if not their entire lives, in prison. Men who sit around jobless and ambitionless are societal dregs. Boys and girls engaged in fornication contribute toward the spread of disease and unmarried teenage parenting. Men and women committing adultery result in unfathomable betrayal and in distrust, bitterness, disease, and shattering of families and homes. Murdering innocent children in the womb is an unspeakable evil. It’s horrible for the mothers, the fathers, and the medical practitioners involved. Human trafficking is nothing more than modern day slave trading for sex.
The root cause, however, of all of these societal ills is sin! If we address each these issues temporally, without communicating compassion for the eternal conditions of the involved persons, it is an incomplete address at best.
It is because we have genuine God-centered, eternity-driven human compassion that Christians must engage the culture concerning skin color-based prejudice (on all sides), crime, sexual immorality, abortion, human trafficking, and more. But we should never do so at the expense of The Gospel, because it truly is “the power of God for (eternal) salvation for everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) Our personal identification with being dead in trespasses and sin uniquely positions us to weep at the conditions of the souls of those who are where we once were and to act with our hearts bursting for their current negative life situations and for their eternal life situations.
We have temporal compassion because we have eternal compassion. Do you believe that? I do!