The Faces of Compassion Conclusion

Compassion moved Fred Rogers to action.
I imagine many of you have at least heard of Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood. Fred Rogers developed a television show in which he taught children the values of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and respect.
In the book..'The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers', he tells how he came to want to teach others the value of compassion.
As a child, he was scared to death to go to school. He was a shy, overweight eight year old, and he was a victim of school yard bullies.. “Hey, Fat Freddy! We're going to get you, Fat Freddy!” They taunted him on many occasions. “I resented the teasing. I resented the pain,” Rogers later said. “I resented those kids for not seeing beyond my fatness or my shyness.”
This became a pivotal moment in Fred Rogers' childhood. The experience could have become destructive or could have turned him into a bully. But, instead, it set him searching, “ I began a lifelong search for what is essential,” he said, “for what it is about my neighbor that doesn't meet the eye.”
Mister Rogers noticed a need in the world and chose to do something about it. Out of his deep hurt came a longing to soothe the pain of others; and out of the callous disregard of schoolyard bullies came a determination to only lift up and never demean his neighbor. Mister Rogers chose compassion.
I believe our world is in great need of compassion at this particular moment in history. We are so deeply divided. We disagree with each other and don't trust one another. We stand on two sides of issues and beat each other up with hateful rhetoric. People are so angry and act out their anger in ways that does great harm to a whole group of people. There are too many mass killings. We see too many homeless, hungry, abused, rejected, lonely, sick, grieving, lost, and oppressed people. We need the hope and compassion of Jesus
Jesus asks us to view the world with compassion and respond in compassionate ways. But, what holds us back? To me, it sometimes seems we lose our feeling of connectedness with one another through text messages, tweets, or Facebook posts. We lose face-to-face communications. When we do, we can't see the face of others. In order to show compassion, we need to see the faces.
Sometimes when I watch the news with all of the violence and anger, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. I want to just shut it off and quit listening. But, then, I remember that indifference is the opposite of compassion.
I also think there is an element of fear in our inability to show compassion. We fear people who look a certain way. We vilify a whole group of people because of the actions of a few. We cannot be compassionate people when we judge before we even know them.
So, what does the face of compassion look like? It looks like my father...
When I was first driving, I put a significant crease in the right quarter panel of his brand new Chevy pickup. I didn't tell him right away. All during supper I was worried about what he would say. I think he must have seen the look of guilt and regret on my face. When supper was over, all he said was, “Well, I think maybe you and I ought to go pound the dent out of that pickup.” And, we did. Part of compassion is seeing the face of people and forgiving....part of compassion is the heart of servanthood and humility.

The face of compassion can be seen in the face of taxi drivers and doctors. Following that horrific bombing incident following a concert in Manchester, England, many people used the incident to spread fear and prejudice against Muslims. The hearts of Muslim taxi drivers went out to the people affected and they offered free lifts home. A Muslim doctor worked into the night saving lives. There was compassion in spite of fear.
Compassion has the face of an 8 year old girl who upon learning that a lunchroom lady's house had burned, took her piggy bank to school without telling her parents and donated the entire contents...more than $l00. She thought they could use it to buy food.
Unselfishness is part of compassion.
Compassion is the white police officer, Tim Purdy, who responded to a call about a teenage black male who was autistic. The young man's mom had reported that he had run away and said that he was going to kill himself. Two other officers found him and were trying to restrain him. That just escalated his fear and anger. Tim heard what was happening and responded even though he had not been called to go. The compassion that came from this man was not a head thing. It wasn't something he had learned in training or books. It was an attitude of the heart. He responded, not because he had to but because he wanted to do so.
When he arrived, Officer Purdy sat next to him on the ground, talked things through and even got him laughing. Officer Purdy established trust and a relationship that allowed officers to get this young man the help that he so desperately needed.
The officer really saw this hurting young man. He got down on his eye level and interacted with him in a loving way. He did not show indifference or fear. He showed compassion.
I challenge you this week to find ways to show compassion. We can ask how someone is and Then, there's compassion that comes in our interactions with those we don't know. We have all of these encounters with people all day – people we cross paths with at work or in the store, people who ring up our groceries, people who wait on us at the bank or we stand behind in line. The next time you go to the grocery store, try engaging the cashier. You don't have to invite him/her home for lunch or anything, but take a look at his/her face. When the cashier looks at you while handing you your change, all that is required of you is to look back. Just meet his/her eyes for a second when you say thanks. Sometimes that is all another person needs to know that they have been seen.
When the people who serve us at a restaurant appear gruff or perhaps give us the wrong meal, rather than anger, we might wonder if they are just having a bad day. We might respond with compassion.
When others engage in hateful rhetoric, we can refuse to join the feeding frenzy.
Yes, we have political opinions, however, I believe we can state them without hate for those who think differently.
People are all around you. Pray that God will give you the eyes that see the real needs of people around you. They are out there waiting for someone to give them help.
God has helped us for a purpose; that we might take what we have received and share it with those who desperately need it.
How do you change the world? You change the world one heart at a life at a time.

Prayer: O God, give us eyes to really see the people around us. God help us to be men and women of compassion, to reach out and touch a hurting world in Jesus' Name. Help us to respond with forgiveness, unselfishness, and w/o fear. May we be a blessing to others...Amen.