March 11, 2014

Empathy: God Knows How And Where You Hurt

One of the most powerful things I have learned over the last five years is that empathy is central in the believing Christian's life. True empathy lies at the heart of love, mercy, forgiveness and especially grace. I have learned that I need it to be able to not only understand other people's pain, but to actually feel their pain along with them. Why is this ability so important? If I cannot feel your pain and walk a mile in your shoes I cannot truly pray for you the way I need to pray for you in a heartfelt manner. Why is this important? The Bible tells me I am to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and love neighbors/people (even my enemies) as myself. I can best love my enemies by praying for them. 

To properly pray for them I must enter their world and put on their shoes. I need to know where they have come from and where they are intending to go to. Why? Because by doing this, in a strange way through proxy…I become them. When I become them I love them as myself. Why is this important? I fulfill part of the greatest commandment and by becoming them…they stop being my enemy and become something greater than a friend. They become someone I love. When you truly feel for someone and love them there is no way for you to hate them any longer. They become “loved ones”, they become family. We then become of one mind and there is unity. In one mind there is peace. In peace…we will find the streets of gold and the Kingdom together. 

This is at the heart of what Jesus did on the Cross. The Cross is the greatest example of empathy ever displayed. Jesus suffered everything known to man at the hands of men and still loved us first.

Hebrews 2:18 ~ "For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 5:7-10 ~ "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

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