Like many of us, Jesus liked to take time out. He loved to be with people as he went about his ministry. But we also read, all through the gospels, how he took time out. Sometimes alone, sometimes with his friends and often to be with his Father.
The story of the feeding of the 5000 is very familiar but, recently, I was drawn to the context of this episode. Here is Jesus, ready for some time out. He was tired, grieving and in need of some time with his friends. But when the crowds come in we read “he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34 ESV)
Despite everything going on, Jesus, moved by compassion, allows himself to be inconvenienced and to have his plans turned upside down – he moves with “inconvenient compassion”.
What do I mean by “inconvenient compassion”? Well I think it is this:
This isn’t about being selfish or unselfish, introvert or extrovert. By inside I mean the stuff within me – my time, my energy, my finances, my plans, my dreams, my relationships.
Inconvenient compassion causes us to move out of that place to the unknown, unexpected, unpredictable – it is ‘walls down’ territory.
People who allow themselves to move in inconvenient compassion are people who sacrifice and give of themselves in all sorts of different ways.
So what does it look like for us? There are so many ways that we can show God’s goodness to the world
Is there anything that we are holding onto that would prevent us from being moved with compassion?
When Jesus sees the people, he moves from inside himself and his desire to be alone to outside, teaching and healing the other. And Jesus is moved twice…
After he’s finished teaching and healing, the disciples notice the people’s hunger and offer to send them away. But Jesus says “we can respond, we can do this….together”
Jesus is moved with compassion but it requires the disciples to work out the miracle. God never intended us to respond to our world on our own. Having our roots down in a local church and community means that when you are moved by something I am called to action.
We will reach so much more of our world when we allow ourselves to be moved with inconvenient compassion together. So, where does this come from?
Immediately after Jesus had dismissed the crowd, he goes up the mountain to pray. Jesus made sure his roots were down in his relationship with his father – he made time to spend with him and in doing so learned the father’s heart. We must do the same.
Then and only then can we truly be moved with heavenly compassion. Then and only then can we see things from a heavenly perspective. At which point, today’s inconvenience is seen in a completely different eternal light.