January 17, 2016 – Exploring Compassion

Rev. David McArthur
Exploring Compassion

We are on an amazing journey: learning the power of compassion. A group of Muslim communities raised $100,000 for the sufferers of that gunman in the church in Charleston, and the fires at black churches that followed. After the shootings in San Bernardino, Muslim communities raised $180,000 for those suffering there. The spokesman for the Muslims said, “Just simply say we love them from the bottom of our hearts  and they should know that they are not alone in this calamity. We share their sorrow.”

The Koran most often speaks of “God the compassionate”, more properly translated as “God is compassion.” This beautiful religion shares this with us. Charles Fillmore said compassion was the unifying, harmonizing power. There are billions of people all over the world striving for love and compassion.

Perhaps Jesus’ greatest lesson on compassion was his story of the Good Samaritan. A priest and a Levite passed by the man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. It was a Samaritan who took pity, tended to his wounds and at his own expense put the man up at an inn. Jesus then asked which was the good neighbor to the man who was robbed. The lawyer who had challenged him replied it was the one which had mercy on him. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Study Martin Luther King to understand that compassion is transformational. From Gandhi, he learned that power is of two kinds: power can be based on fear of punishment or on love. Power based on love is a thousand times more powerful and effective. How long it has taken for mankind to awaken and learn how to use this power! Dr. King taught that non-violence means not only to refrain from external violence, but also from internal violence of the spirit. “You not only refuse to shoot a man; you refuse to hate him.”

Dr. King stood with people who desired change, resisting with non-violence those with guns and authority; with non-action showing they wished their oppressors no harm. It touched us all, this amazing power over violence and hate. Imagine that you are standing there beside him among those with completely justifiable anger. Now hear the words of Lao Tzu: “The gentlest thing in the world (love) overcomes the hardest thing in the world (hatred, anger, guns and bullets)… That which has no substance (love) enters where there is no space (the closed, hardened heart).”  This is the masters’ way, the way of Martin Luther King, Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddhist teachers.

Respond with compassion this week, when you come upon someone angry or feeling victimized, or the oppressor acting on his pain, This morning we prayed for those in ISIS who are acting out of their pain and fear. They are also children of God. I hold you in the compassion of my heart. For those around us at home or at work, I hold you in the compassion of my heart. And when you find you are the oppressor, or do “OMG! I am a victim!”, I hold me in the compassion of my heart.

What a beautiful way to hold the people of the world! Most importantly, what a beautiful way to hold yourself!