A Revelation of the World
Hardly a moment can pass without the depths of sin being placed on display to be seen by all. in fact, most of us are acutely aware of the prevalence of sin by the intensity of sin that often prevails. Even more so, some of the most abhorrent of sins are not even hidden, but openly allowed to entice any person. Sometimes though, seemingly insignificant events escape notice, when in actuality they have much to say about the status of a world without Christ.
This is true with some recent events as news outlets reported the situation of a family flying home to Phoenix after visiting family members in Washington State. Due to an allergic reaction to a dog on board, the family volunteered to remove themselves from the plane. The result: passengers began to (sarcastically) clap at the deplaning of the family. What we have here is a family who, not only concerned for their child, but also not wanting to cause any problems for the airline or the other passengers voluntarily removed themselves from the plane. While the delay was slight, passengers were unconcerned about their fellow human beings.
Events like this are not uncommon. While this one garnered a bit more notoriety because it involved an airline, circumstances such as these take place everyday. They occur in the line at the grocery store when we someone isn’t moving fast enough or driving down the road when one person cuts in front of another.
Circumstances such as these must cause us to pause and consider: Why is it that fellow humans act in such a way? We see in the example of the family flying home (who were on a family trip because the father has cancer) that such a response reveals both a high regard for self and a low regard for others. In essence these people revealed their personal selfishness and a lack of compassion for others. What causes such a display in human interactions?
A Revelation of the Spirit
Ultimately, the answer to such a question is simple in that it is the result of sin. Sin is the root cause of everything, but taking this further reveals something deeper about society from a Christian worldview. It sets before the example and realization of just how much people need Christ in their lives and need to be walking according to the Spirit.
Most of us are aware of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul expounds upon in Galatians 5:16-26. It is there that he compares and contrasts fleshly living and godly living. In the middle of that passage, he explicitly states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Even a casual glance can elevate the pressure on one’s life at the realization of what should come out in the Christian life. Two things come to mind initially in regards to the interaction of humans with one another:
- These are the result of the Spirit at work in one’s life.
- These are necessary for compassion to prevail.
The word ‘fruit’ is singular indicating that these are independent aspects to be manifested, but that there is only one aspect of the Christian life we are talking about here, but that one aspect contains within it nine different pieces for us to put together. For true compassion to be meted out towards people around us, I would say that each of these must be in play. If love is not there, then compassion is not there either. If patience is not there, then compassion is probably not there either. And so on. While certain situations may require one aspect more than the others, they all must be present.
This thought is further accentuated when we recognize that they come from the Spirit and walking in Him. Thus, for true compassion to be at work in us and through us, the Holy Spirit must be at work in us and through us. In other words, true compassion never occurs apart from the work of God. Certainly a person may at times display pieces of the fruit in their lives, but never do they come together on a more continuous basis than when the Spirit is at work through that person.
A Revelation of the World’s Need for the Spirit
Why is it then that the world is content to treat one another with such contempt, disrespect, and at times hatred? Because they lack the Spirit’s motivation and ability to do so. We learn from encounters such as though that we have mentioned that there exists a great need for the Spirit in the lives of people around us. True unity, true peace, and true joy will never exist without Him.
As believers then, our response is quite simple. First is the need to make disciples. That almost goes without saying. However, the realization of the dire need should be intensified when you recognize that those difficult public situations can be avoided if others would simply yield their lives to Him alone.
Furthermore though, it brings to light how important, how necessary it is for believers to stand as examples. Paul begins the passage of the fruit of the Spirit by commanding readers to walk by the Spirit. That is to live in the Spirit. Make him a part of your way of living. In doing so, godly compassion can be meted out through our lives to others so that all may learn from the example. Doing so also means that we are taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase God’s true character. Walking by the Spirit points people to God and His true love, true joy, true peace, true patience, true kindness, true goodness, true faith, true gentleness, and true self-control. It showcases God as He is not as the culture attempts to define Him.
While seemingly insignificant, we can learn much about human nature by observing instances of incompassionate attention towards one another. Every observation we make though, should be filtered through our Christian worldview lens so that it demands a response, an appropriate reaction. The reaction in this case: to walk by the Spirit so that others may see the Spirit at work.