The Church is familiar with the language of Faith. It resonates with us, it fits us well, like hand-made shoes or a made-to-measure suit. In our church, we teach and preach faith and then we do our best to live it out on a daily basis. Hopefully we are honest enough, though, to say with the Gospel writer: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). We are imperfect but we have faith in the One who IS perfect – Jesus.
We pray, we confess, we believe that God will intervene in our life challenges, by healing, freeing, saving and providing when we have no way forward ourselves. In the same story Jesus says: “If you can believe, all things ARE possible to him who believes”. (Mark 9:23)
The church is at its best when we are full of Faith, experiencing miracles and God interventions. It’s one of the reasons why this season of Global Pandemic is tailor made for the church to excel. When fear and worry, sickness and stress abound, the church can be who she is, bringing faith and offering hope and experiencing God interventions when all seems lost.
I suggest that the Church is really at its best though when Faith is mixed with empathy! The church has not always been so good at empathy.
The disciples asked Jesus about a blind man, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9). They didn’t excel inat that moment as pastors or believers, they just presumed sin caused sickness and asked whose fault it was?
In this season as much as ever, people need empathy, which by definition is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I suggest to you that the church is at its best not when we are full of faith alone, but when we are also full of love, understanding and this thing called empathy, towards people and their plight. It’s the season for us to shine. We need Faith and Empathy to pastor our world.
Ask yourself this question: when you watch Political Leaders, Medical experts, CEOs of companies or even Newsreaders on the nightly news. Who do you relate to the most? The one who speaks with positivity and faith or the one who is also moved and maybe sheds an honest tear when they speak? I know I value having leaders who ‘feel’, who ‘hurt’ for their people more than those who have words alone.
Jesus, as always is our perfect example:; full of faith, speaking truth but “deeply moved in spirit and troubled”, “Jesus wept” (John 11:33-35). This generation needs to experience that same empathy from the church.
FAITH AND EMPATHY So, what do you feel about the following statements?
- The Church is pretty good at Faith.
- The Church is not always so good at Empathy.
- When the Church excels at Faith AND empathy, we represent Jesus to our world.