Thursday, February 3, 2011

Compelled by love

My Dad cries every time he watches movies. Actually, he doesn’t just cry, he bawls. We watched Secretariat the other night and he was crying before the horses even started running. And it was the second time he had watched it! You know those little vignettes about the American Idol contestants? They get him every time. Olympic athlete bios? He is a mess. From Toy Story to Lord of the Rings, he is always in tears. He even cries at commercials!

While it’s become sort of a standing joke in our family, there’s something about it that I actually admire and that is the fact that he is moved by beauty, by the heroic, by victory, by pain.

The New Testament records how Jesus was moved by the world around him. It says again and again that he was “moved with compassion” (Matt. 20:34, Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34, etc) and how it spurred him to action.

I think being moved is where our service for God ought to begin. Yes, there is a place for duty and you certainly don’t always FEEL like going and serving or doing things for God, but Paul wrote “the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). And I don’t think when he wrote that word “compel” that he was implying command or duty or honorable service. I think Paul was saying that His heart was so moved and stirred by the love of Jesus for the world around Him that he couldn’t help but do something about it.

When you live in third world countries and are surrounded by so much poverty and death and need, you begin to develop the ability to tune it out, to turn off your emotions. It’s sort of a survival skill I guess. You have to tune it out. If you were emotionally affected by every beggar on the street, you’d never get to work. If you were moved to tears for every tragic story you heard, you’d never be able to function. But the danger is that after you pass the umpteenth person asking you for money, you cease to hear them at all. That after you pass the fifth shantytown on the road, you cease to see them at all. That after you hear about another child orphaned by AIDS, you cease to feel anything at all. That when you hear about another person eternally separated from Jesus Christ, you cease to be moved at all.

And it’s not just a problem for those of us who live overseas anymore. It’s a danger that all of us face. In a world over-saturated with news and images where both beauty and destruction are just a click away, one of the greatest enemies to action is our own inability to feel, to be moved to wonder or to be brought to tears. What a sad day when we cease to feel compassion for the beggar in the street, when our heart stops breaking for the widows and orphans, or when we cease to grieve for those who are separated from God.

My prayer for you today, my dear readers is that you will never cease to be moved – by beauty, by pain, by victories, by loss, by sorrow, by joy, and maybe even sometimes by horse races.

Oh and next time you watch a movie with Dad be sure to bring a box of tissues.


Fearless Lover said...

:) great should read compelled by love by Heidi baker!! Great book

Emily said...

thanks, and! i haven't read that one yet, but i read her other book "always enough". she has the most amazing stories from her work in mozambique.

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