“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36 NIV
Lasting transformation and change begins with vision. Blind leaders rarely lead for long. Jesus lived his life with eyes wide open. He paid close attention to faces and people. He noticed what others ignored. He saw what others did not see. His vision changed the world and will continue to change the world through people willing to see what he sees.
Matthew reported in simple yet profound words that “when Jesus saw the crowds…he had compassion on them.” The vivid Greek word Matthew chose spoke of someone deeply moved. Someone so caught up in the experience that they literally felt it deep down inside. I must confession I rarely have such a visceral experience. I fear at times that my heart has become callous to the plight of those around me or possibly worse I am so self-conscious that I don’t even notice others.
If you don’t see it, your heart will not be moved. Take El Paso for example. It is a large metropolitan city nestled in a valley of nations. One on side of the Rio Grande rests a sprawling third-world city known for violence and a strong manufacturing labor force. On the other side of the river thrives a large modern city with a major international university, a huge military base, state of the art medical facilities, and a home for commerce. However don’t be deceived into thinking that a river and barbed wire fences can separate these two cities. No, the plight and future of each city is one story.
Modern transportation beats walking in terms of speed of travel but robs the traveler of being fully alive. Jesus walked everywhere he went. At the pace of walking a city comes alive with smiles, smells, sights, and sounds. Walking reveals the details that fill in the gaps in the story while driving only creates blurs and misleading first impressions. I believe compassion begins with slowing down and really seeing. Seeing a community the way God sees the community.
Tomorrow morning or late this afternoon why don’t you take a “prayer walk” around your neighborhood. As you walk whisper a prayer for your neighbor. Greet those who you may pass by. Ask God to open your eyes so you will truly see as He sees. May your heart be moved with compassion today.