Compassion is a Story

October 8, 2009


Our Begin Again series concluded this past Sunday with a talk about compassion.  As we have progressed through this series we have come to see that to begin again requires heart change.  This was especially seen in our talk about compassion this past weekend (get the podcast!).


Our text was Luke 10: 25-37, the exchange between Jesus and a religion scholar which ends in the story of the “good Samaritan”.  Let’s recount again how this dialogue proceeds.  First, the scholar approaches Jesus with a theoretical puzzle: how does one get in on eternal life?  An important question which needs to be asked.  Jesus answers the question in the same way he is asked, in the logic of Scripture reasoning.  But that can only carry the discussion so far.


What is fascinating to me is that the discussion meets a dead end of sorts, for even though the issue becomes somewhat clarified (want to enter eternal life? then love God and love your neighbor), it remains a theoretical thing.  And this is seen especially in the way the scholar camps on the problematic issue of defining a neighbor.  The lesson should not be lost on us: we can can endlessly recede into equivocations and excuses, and miss the biggest parts of what life can be.


So what does Jesus do in response?  He shifts the language away from analysis and theory and simply tells a story.  Apparently, if we are going to understand the value of a compassionate life, then it must become something we can feel and see, and not something we merely think about.


And this is why we often affirm the place of story in our teaching at Westside.  We believe that the most important truths do not enter our hearts through analytical thinking alone.  Instead, we need to see truth worked out in real ways, in the lives of persons and in the way their lives unfold.  We come to know the truth when we can feel it.  And when we can see the beauty of truth lived out and embodied, it takes on a whole new richness.  Compassion must become a story and not allowed to remain an idea.


This weekend is Thanksgiving.  We want to present a story from our community that will not only remind us that thanksgiving is the proper response to God, but a way to make life beautiful, a way of being that lives in real people with real stories.


Finally, let me remind you that an important community moment will take place on October 20 at Westside.  It is the chance to consider where we are heading in our life together as followers of Jesus.  If you follow this link ( can hear what our lead pastor, Chris Wiersma, intends for that evening.


Happy Thanksgiving.  See you this Sunday at 9:29 or 11:11.


Bob Osborne