There's a ministry called Adopt-a-Block that reaches out to families and individuals that live on one of most crime ridden streets in York County. Christian men and women give up their free time to minister to people that are impoverished, experience prostitution, and dabble in illicit drug and gang activity in order to show them the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
I had the opportunity to become involved with this ministry for a few months this past summer, and what I experienced amazed me. These Christian men and women meet real physical needs. They are in connection with local churches to provide food, clothes, toiletries, and even furniture to the people within this community. But their primary focus is on meeting spiritual needs through developing close relationships with the families and individuals.
The people on this street know these men and women as the church people, but there's a deep love and respect among the people that live on the street and the people that have been visiting their homes for the past few years. Through these relationships, God has provided opportunities for the people on the street to hear about the gospel.
In the believers involved with Adopt-a-Block, I see the compassionate love of Christ that Paul Miller describes in his book, Love Walked Among Us:
Jesus has shown us how to love: Look, feel, and then help. If we help someone but don't take the time to look at the person and feel what he or she is feeling, our love is cold. And if we look and feel, but don't do what we can to help, our love is cheap. Love does both.
In essence, love shows compassion, which requires action + feeling.
Jesus explains what compassionate love looks like while sharing the parable of the Good Samaritan with a lawyer seeking how to inherit eternal life. From Luke 10:25-37:
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?"
The one who showed compassion.
The men and women involved with Adopt-a-Block in York County show the compassionate love of Christ through the way that they see the people and care for them. They see their physical and spiritual needs and they take action to care for both. It isn't easy, and these men and women pray for protection from God on a street known for violence, prostitution, and drug use. However, they get to see an entire community transformed through imaging the compassionate love of Jesus Christ.
Christ exhibits compassionate love in his death on the cross. He was moved by compassion for his people and their enslavement to sin, and this compassion moves him to give his life on the cross for the ransom of many. What greater act of compassionate love is there?
Reading the Love Shows Compassion section from Love Walked Among Us and ministering alongside the men and women involved with Adopt-a-Block opened my eyes to how Jesus shows compassion through feeling and action. I can often choose one or the other (action or feeling), but like Paul Miller writes, true compassion requires both.
This post is a part of a series as I review and share thoughts spurred on by the book
Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller.
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