A Genetic Marker of God's Family
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
From 2 Corinthians 1:2-4
It's with those words that we begin our morning worship today, where we'll be exploring the prayer that Jesus taught us - a prayer where we are encouraged to call the almighty God "Our Father."
In these couple of verses from Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church, we are reminded what sort of a father he is... not a stiff and distant Victorian father, but "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort."
This past couple of weeks I have, sadly been astounded by the lack of compassion exhibited by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ... and have also, with certain justification, been accused of lack of compassion with regard to one particular person... yet Paul seems to be suggesting that compassion is part of the DNA of our heavenly Father. Jesus exhibits this compassion again and again... this visceral, gut wrenching empathy that moves him to action. Not simply to say the right words (though that's generally a start) but do the right thing.
Compassion cannot be commanded or programmed, it is something organic... a sign that we are truly children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ... But like all "nature or nurture" issues, our genetic predisposition needs to be allowed to express itself. Yet sadly, within Protestantism and, dare I say it, particularly Northern Irish Protestantism, there is a tendency towards hardness... "Pull yourself together..." "Get up and get on with it..." that can suppress the compassion that should be a clear genetic marker of the family of God. Yes, we may do good things, but there is a huge difference between cold charity and Christian compassion, between calculating social evangelism and the gracious care that flows from being good news people.
Grace and peace to you... and through you to others...