Hope or Depair: Compassion or Punishment

Psalm 145 and Micah
4:1-8 speak about this compassion and how it leads to fairness which is addressed in Matthew
20:1-16.

The word “compassion” appears a multitude of times in the Bible in the King James and the New Revised Standard Version; perhaps the other versions likewise. God’s compassion balances his jealousness for being our God. God was merciful and bountiful with his people but they did not realize how good their life was when they faced God. 

Bright lights from false gods attracted them. Easy living drew their laziness genes. Then God used the power he had to make life miserable for the Israelites. It is Adam and Eve over and over. Can we believe that it was God’s compassion that led him to punish? Personally, I believe we can persuade people with honey more than punishment but apparently I don’t subscribe to the same behavior methods as God does. 

Should we question God’s governing style? It seems simple: Face God, obey the rules, live well! Turn away from God, live miserably, separated from God! Think wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, disease, floods, 9/11! Think how full our jails and prisons are! Think! Is God trying to get our attention? Is it the end times? Is there any compassion to be found in these times? Think of our overcrowded prisons; think of the riots! Would you agree that something is wrong? 

The compassion angle of God shines brightly when God acts on his compassion. Maybe punishment works nowadays, maybe not. Maybe we need to be copying the compassion times of God rather than the punishment mode. What is the difference between “compassion” and “love?” Do we not have declarations from God and Jesus to love God and love each other as much as we love ourselves or even as much as Jesus loves us? 

What do you think would happen if we went about life from the love angle instead of the punishment angle? You know it is already happening? Organizations are giving new life to the downtrodden with education, with encouragement, with opening doors, with confidence. This is the way. Changing laws, increasing training so that past offenders are hireable in decent jobs.  Thinking outside the color. Thinking outside the language. Thinking outside the birthplace.  

Supposedly, we all came from Noah’s family so our heritage DNA originated with Noah and his wife because everyone else was said to have died in the flood, all after laughing at Noah and his sons. So people were not separated by color in that one family. Color developed by location when the people spread to earn livings. Why then do humans consider one color better than another? Where is the love, the compassion? 

Speaking about location, is it right to push people from land? Is it right to capture people and move them to a new land to service the captors? Do we think this pleases God? Do we think we are God? 

In our United Church of Christ across the United States, we are celebrating and examining ourselves about “The Three Loves: love of creation, love of people, especially love of children. 

Respect, regard, and love for these three elements in our lives, can be the honey, the drawing magnet that brings each blade of grass, each river, each child, each wayward adult to the full potential that God planned. Who are the wayward adults? Not us, for sure. 

But then again, even though we did not actually do all the dirty work to Native Americans, what are we doing now to right the wrong? Even though we think we are not prejudiced by the color of a person’s skin or by their language or even their accent, what are we doing about the unfairness. Once in my life I was shamed by another person for my being a Mennonite. That was once. I felt trapped. I did not have a defense ready as Peter says we should in 1 Peter 3:15.  I panicked for that one moment. Luckily something else happened to take the focus from me. 

I do not know, except for that one little moment in time, how it would hurt and how it would effect my self-confidence and my happiness level to have people call me other names over and over.  

I do not know how it feels to be pushed off sacred land where God speaks through the grass and the water and the sun and the night. God is not creation but he designed and made the earth and everything that grows and blows and ripples along. To have the sacredness of the Native language denigrated is like the Babylonians desecrating the temple. It is like a thief breaking into our church and damaging or stealing items we consider holy and dedicated to God. Worse, it is being forced to leave our homes and to be crowded into detention centers with no way to earn a living, no wholesome recreation, no respect, no education that is valid to us. Even worse, to be forced to not practice our own way of worshiping our God by people who claim to worship the same God. What is this? 

It is America today! Those of us who are privileged, even though we may be poor, manage to stay away from this unpleasantness. We are not coerced by God into righting the wrongs. Well it is time that we grow some love and compassion in our hearts. God’s compassion and love are  not meant for us alone. It is not enough to write about love. We need to show it. It better come close to the love God showed to us – all of us – by sending his only Son to earth as a baby to get our attention and to die for our sins. 

We need to research how we can best help to transform the world from lack of love to abundance of love. Maybe money is all we can do. That is a start. Prayer is always a foundation for what can be. Action needs to happen but what can we do? Well, we better find some good action with a group or even by ourselves. Telephone calls. Writing letters. Seeing first hand. Reading Kaitlin B. Curtice’s book, “Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God” and “Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race” by Debbie Irving. I am not thinking of clothing collections or food pantry. I am thinking of land reclamation, education, training and true justice and agape love. Can this happen or is it wishful thinking? Is it too late? 

We need to remember the love that has been born into us. We need to remember the love that came to us in a cradle one holy, silent night. We need to internalize the climactic love that happened on the cross . . . all for us, all for everyone who believes. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

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