One of the reasons I’m blogging through this book is that it was written by a pastor, and it is important for me to understand more deeply what pastors think and do. Chp. 6 deals with the heart of pastoral vision: compassion. How compassionate are you? Here’s a definition for each of us:
“If Christian behavior includes gut-level feelings of mercy, making God’s heart visible, then surely pastors who are having Christ formed in them must model a radical compassion” (90). How about each of us, how compassionate are we? really?
Compassion in the Gospels describes Jesus’ behavior — a need is presented, Jesus’ responds in a visible manner (that is how one knows he was compassionate), a contrast is sometimes made with those who are not showing compassion, and then Jesus acts to end the need. Compassion is never stopped at emotion; it prompts action. When compassion ends with no more than emotional response, mercy is aborted. This paragraph extends John’s thoughts and it is what came to mind as I read this chp.
John suggests the sermon is not the heart of pastoral ministry. Pastoring is, and pastoring means showing compassion. This is the art of finding how each person is part of and perpetuates God’s fascinating Story! (You might want to read that again; it sums up something said on p. 93.)