I received this email yesterday. The subject line, as you could guess, was “Compassion”:
Matt, you call yourself a Christian but you have no compassion. The Jesus I believe in just wants people to be compassionate towards each other. We are not told to be judgmental to others because of who they love or what lifestyle they choose to have or what gender they identify as. Who are you to say what is wrong or right? We shouldn’t be focused on talking about “sin” or telling other people that they might be going to Hell. You have no right to say what a “sin” is. Our job is to be compassionate to all! Compassionate isn’t when you’re judging or telling other people about their sins. I pray that you realize the error of your ways.
This is a good example of the bland salad of empty feeling and meaningless sentiment that often passes for “Christianity” in this country. You’ll notice that the adherents to this false version of the faith — and they certainly outnumber Christ’s true disciples by a large margin in our culture — have kidnapped, tortured, and destroyed many words that were previously very useful to Christians. A word like “judge,” for instance, has been so often misapplied and misconstrued by the Sentimental Christians that the rest of us almost have to leave off using it.
No word or concept, though, has been more thoroughly ruined by the Sentamentalists than “compassion.” They have settled on “compassion” as the most noble euphemism for their self-centered and lackadaisical theology, and now they can’t seem to talk about their faith for 2 minutes without tossing it out a dozen times. Unfortunately, there is no indication that they actually know what the word means.
The word compassion comes from the Latin for “co-suffering.” When we are “compassionate” towards another, we take on their suffering in the hopes of helping them towards some good end. This is what Christ did in the most perfect way when He came to Earth to suffer and die for the sins of Man. It was the greatest act of compassion in the history of the universe. The key point in Christ’s compassion is that it was a saving act. He didn’t just come down and give us a hug and say, “Hey, you guys are super. No need to change anything! Good job! Well, anyway, see ya later!” Rather, He shed light on the darkness and corruption of the world and then did something about it. He sacrificed Himself. He suffered with us and for us so that we can go to Heaven.
This is what it means to be compassionate. Compassion is an act, it is a sacrifice, it is suffering, it is intended to help others get to Heaven. We obviously cannot win salvation for others, or even for ourselves, but we can still be compassionate in a way that imitates Christ’s compassion. The relativistic, indifferent “compassion” described in the email above — the same type often preached from the pulpits of our churches — has nothing to do with the compassion of Christ. For the Sentamentalists, “compassion” is a synonym for “nice,” and “nice” means being tolerant and accepting of whatever a person decides to do or however they decide to live. To them, compassion is always polite, always easy going, always enabling, always passive. Compassion is a feeling. A nod of approval. A pat on the back.
Conveniently, their “compassion” can be exercised from the comfort of their living rooms. Simply by virtue of lounging on the couch and not intruding in the affairs of others they have shown compassion. Every moment they spend watching Netflix and eating Doritos is a moment of Heavenly compassion because it does not interfere with anyone. You’ll notice that their compassion isn’t really modeled after Christ so much as it’s modeled after The Dude from The Big Lebowski. It’s totally chill and, like, not all up in your face, you know?
This compassion never rebukes sin or calls anyone to repentance (except when it is rebuking those who rebuke, which appears to be one form of rebuking that these “compassionate” and “non-judgmental” types are quite comfortable with). It doesn’t concern itself at all with the fate of souls. This kind of “compassionate” person just wants others to be comfortable here on Earth, whatever the cost. He doesn’t care about helping people get to Heaven. He is concerned only with the here and now.