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Because He Loved Us

Jesus displayed incredible compassion and then he told us to do likewise.


About 25 years ago I almost became a hero for the cause of justice and compassion. For my first job after college, every morning at 6:00 a.m. I had to get to work by walking past a very sketchy used car lot in a rundown part of south Minneapolis. One morning I heard some scuffling and grunting coming from the back of that used car lot, so I went to investigate. Sure enough there was a guy who was starting to beat up another guy. I immediately thought, Well, I can’t just stand here. I have to do something to help. There’s a Pounder on a top of a Poundee and the Poundee is going to get beat up. As I approached them, I assumed that some brilliant, heroic words would start to form on my lips. Unfortunately, those heroic words never formed.

So, I stood at a distance and cleared my throat. They ignored me. I finally came up with this brilliant opening line: “Ah, yeah, um, (clear throat), excuse me, but I don’t think you should be doing that—you know, beating up that other person.” As you might imagine, the Pounder seemed to have some anger issues already, and my presence didn’t help him. He stood up, got in my face, and started cursing at me. The next thing I saw was a fist coming rapidly towards my face. Sure enough, the fist connected with my face. My glasses and my briefcase went flying. As I was decked out on the pavement, the Pounder chased after the Poundee, and I thought to myself, Now, that didn’t go very well, did it?

How to Plunge in and Fail

I may have meant well, and I may have provided some temporary relief for the Poundee, but it wasn’t an effective strategy for dealing with the broken lives in south Minneapolis. Unfortunately, when it comes ...

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Matt Woodley is the pastor of compassion ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

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