Could We Show Compassion to This Man?

There are plenty of heinous things that take place on a regular basis in our world today. We are not privy to such in our day, as if we are in more desperate times than previous days. I believe such has always been prevalent in the history of mankind. It’s just that we have the media and internet today to help emphasise it even more.

In recent months, we have heard of Terry Jones and the Qur’an burning or Jared Lee Loughner and the Tucson shooting, and now many know the name Harold Camping from his recent prediction of the ‘rapture’ that was to take place on 21 May 2011. Obviously, as most of us suspected, it didn’t take place.

With such acts, our tendency is to, no doubt, ridicule these people. Simple mockery and ridicule. And we, Christians, can easily step in and add to the one voice of jeers and sneers as well. Though we love to back up a lot of this by stating we are simply speaking the truth in love, such is far from any notion of being able to be backed up by this quoting of the biblical text.

Or, if we don’t feel we can utilise that passage, we remind others that God is a God of judgment and wrath. So we need to remember such and respect it.

I don’t doubt God is a God of judgment and wrath, as Scripture communicates such. But what we participate in with our ridicule, at least as Christians, relates very little to the reality that God is a God of judgment and wrath. I didn’t realise mockery, mockery from our lips as Christ-followers, lines up with God’s judgment, as if we are the personal dispensers of such. Nevertheless, we find room to participate in it and excuse it.

I don’t know why we feel the need to quote Bible verses to back us up on these actions. Again, we are far from connecting to God’s judgment with this and even further from the perspective of speaking the truth in love. But even if somehow we were being faithful to these truths, just get on with it rather than finding ways to justify such words and acts.

And, so, with Harold Camping, as I did with Terry Jones or Jared Lee Loughner, I return to the possibility of God’s broken heart over another person. A man who definitely got it wrong. A man who has now been wrong at least twice on this topic after putting his neck on the line to communicate to the world that the ‘rapture’ is coming. A man who has possibly disillusioned some people who are his followers. But a man created in the image of God, a man that God would move mountains and seas, heaven and earth, to draw unto Himself for forgiveness, healing and restoration.

I admit, I am a softy on these things. I’d rather bring in the balm of peace-making than shout from the rooftops about the foolishness of others. Maybe it has something psychologically to do with a desire to be liked by others. Or maybe I have the hope that I wouldn’t end up plastered across the internet and media for my foolish acts. Or maybe I sense something of God’s heart.

Yes, Camping didn’t have to go public. But he did what he believed was true. I don’t need to defend the man’s actions. I agree it was unwise. I’ll even agree it was flat out wrong. But don’t give me this mess that we are ‘speaking the truth in love’ and that ‘God is a God of judgment and wrath’, all to appease our appetite to ridicule and taunt this 89-year old man.

I’m thinking the call is to be a little more like the Holy Spirit. Remember, a name used for him in the original New Testament Greek was parakletos, meaning ‘one called alongside’. I suppose Camping needs not more media and internet and blogging coverage for us all to point and laugh at. He needs someone to come alongside him. Sure, I know the arguments against such an approach. He might not allow for it, he might not listen, etc. But I am still certain that what has gone on for the past few weeks hasn’t helped one iota either.

Again, I admit I am a softy. But I would rather err with grace and compassion than err on the other side. I’d rather see us attempt, if possible, to come alongside people like Camping or Jones or Loughner than cover our ridicule with a smile and Bible verse. Somehow, I sense the displeasure of our Father just as much with these actions and words.

Could we show compassion to this man? I know our Father can.

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4 thoughts on “Could We Show Compassion to This Man?

  1. I too believe compassion is a necessary (part of our) response to Harold Camping. When Paul wrote to Timothy to warn about false teachers in 1 Tim.1:3-8 he certainly was motivated by “love that issues from a pure heart…”. However, I think we must be as firm as Paul on teachers “without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (v.7).

    For me, this is not about responding to a single ministry – the whole situation highlights the dire state of eschatological teaching in much of the church. Mr Camping has a high profile now, but he is only one of many who hold biblically illiterate views on the end-times and related topics such as Israel and the future of the church.

    So, a big ‘yes’ to compassion but only as Christ would show: “he had compassion on them, … he began to teach them a great many things.”(Mk.6:34)

  2. Hugh –

    Thanks for the comment. I agree with what you have said on firmness. But, from my perspective, the gist of my article is important because all we are mainly hearing is ridicule. Nothing much else but ridicule and mockery. I’ve not yet seen much of anything on how compassion could be extended in this situation. I am sure there is some ‘correction’ out there that is of a more loving nature. And that is what needs to be done. But what I keep reading cannot be cloaked in ‘speaking the love in truth’.

    So, whereas the pendulum is very far on this one side, with both the world and Christians, I wanted us to ponder the other side where the pendulum could head towards to bring some healthy balance.

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