Focus 4 (of 5)-Revisioning Compassion

Focus 4|Revisioning Compassion

Compassion bridges the gap between “what they’re trying to say” and “what you think they’re trying to say.”
Consider this ice breaker question to get started.
What simple food will you never eat?
See what this Spotlight—and series— is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 4" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let’s talk about schadenfreude.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)

Image Credit: Sketchplanations
Avoid the void—let expression be met with compassion.

Compare and contrast these two images.

Expression is a cry to be acknowledged, understood, and accompanied in whatever one is experiencing. Compassion is hearing that cry—acknowledging it, seeking to understand it, and joining with the express-er.

Together, expression and compassion are a beautiful call and response that can go back and forth forever. The devil hates it when this happens, so he seeks to disrupt and interrupt the call-response loop so people feel like they're screaming into the void. He distracts you with greed, competition, pride, fear, despair, lust, addiction and 1,000 other dead ends.

Read through this prayer with your group.

Jesus prayed about this for you on the night before he was crucified. Join him (flex your compassion muscle) in that prayer as you start this Spotlight.
Welcome Perspective
Community grows strong when expression is met with true compassion.
See how God showed his compassion to Moses.
Click through the presentation below to explore how Moses requested and interacted with God’s compassion in chapter 33 of the book of Exodus. (Plus, see an expression of God similar to what we looked at in the third Focus of this series!)
Praise God for his compassion.
Read through Psalm 103 with your group. As you do, notice all the ways this Psalm celebrates God coming to his people in compassion and being with them in their suffering.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.

Psalm 103
Sing along with Psalm 103.
Worship Perspective
In love and mercy compassion chooses to be with you where you are.
Distinguish between these: unity and uniformity.
First, permit a short #rant.

How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
Psalm 133

Unity is good, and the expression-compassion loop this Spotlight talks about leads to unity. When the expression-compassion loop breaks down, the result is division. (Think of the Tower of Babel.)

Where there is division, it is good and godly to seek unity. In seeking unity, though, there’s a common mistake that understanding the expression-compassion loop can help you avoid. Sometimes people start to think that if everyone expressed themselves in the same way, there would be unity—and that the reason for division is because people are failing to express in the same way.

This would be fine if we were robots, but we aren’t. (The Tower of Babel actually speaks to this. If God wanted all expression to be uniform, he wouldn’t have mixed up the languages of all people.) You see, the problem isn’t in the diversity of expression. The problem of division comes in the lack of compassionate reception of those diverse expressions.

It’s a two-way street, of course. The expression-compassion loop must be a loop—compassion receiving expression and being received with compassion. Where this breaks down, you see division. Where it doesn’t you see something like unity.

To sum it up: If the idea of oil running down an old man’s beard and onto his shirt doesn’t fill you with a sense of wholesome satisfaction, that’s OK. You can still be united with the writer of Psalm 133 and experience the blessing of God that was being celebrated there.


Discuss (with compassionate hearts!) this rant.

Where have you experienced the confusion between unity and uniformity…

  • in the world?
  • in the church?
  • in your own heart?
Dive even deeper into the core of God’s compassion.
Here’s what happened after the conversation between Moses and God that you read earlier:

The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”

So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Exodus 34:1–7

That thing God proclaimed as he passed before Moses… that’s like God’s name. He’s describing himself accurately, and this description (which starts with compassion!) comes up over and over again in the Bible.

Watch this video from The Bible Project to further explore the idea of compassion contained here.

Discuss the video with the following questions:

  • The Hebrew word for compassion calls to mind the way a parent cares for their child. It’s a beautiful picture, but in a culture that often respects parenthood more than childhood, it can be confusing. How might you explain that it is important for every person to be able to be “like a child” and “like a parent” as they exist in their community? 
  • Not everyone doing this Spotlight is a mother (or even has that option), but the womb idea embedded in this word is powerful. Come up with at least three ways that considering the maternal nature of God is valuable. In other words, why is it good that God is your mother just as much as God is your father? 
Learn Perspective
Practice compassion—challenge yourself to care like mother to child.
See compassion in action.
Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) is a service that assists churches in reaching out to members of their communities with special needs. They have developed many resources to equip churches in this work, and you’re going to spend the next several minutes taking a look at their handbook.

Follow these steps to complete this exercise, especially if you’re doing this Spotlight with a group:

Start by dividing your group into four smaller groups, one group for each section of the handbook:

  1. JCM programs and process
  2. JCM outreach work plan
  3. Program evaluation and metrics
  4. Toolkit resources

Then take five minutes to look through your section and prepare to explain the contents to the other groups. As you prepare to present, be ready to speak to these points:

  1. What did you find that you hadn’t thought about/didn’t know before? 
  2. Was there anything that seemed lacking? 
  3. What impressed your group about the approach/material?
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
It will look different every time, but you’ll know compassion when you see it.
Close with this song that stands on the mountain with Moses.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective
Where you find compassion, you find the glory of God.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.
Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.

No Comments