One thing I’ve been struggling with the past several weeks is the idea of what compassion and Christ-like love really means. How does it manifest itself in our daily lives, in the course of our professions, and in the way we insert ourselves into other people’s lives?
In what ways we do allow ourselves to buy into a subtle deception that somehow, God’s work isn’t being done or we’re failing our mission if we’re not the ones changing people’s lives? There are many heroes of the faith who toiled, suffered, and died without ever seeing the fruits of their labor (Heb. 11). But they still believed in what they couldn’t see.
We become slaves to outcomes, in spiritual matters as well as professional ones. Take for example, my God-appointed visit a couple of weeks ago with a woman in Tulsa diagnosed with a fatal autoimmune condition. Praise God, I was able to identify two major environmental stressors that could be exacerbating her condition. However, eliminating these two factors will not cure her. The path to complete healing requires a complete overhaul of her world view, lifestyle, and priorities. I believe she can recover; the medical doctors say she will not. Will she choose to fight her illness and pursue a new path of healing or will she resignation herself to her prognosis? I don’t know. And I have no control over what she chooses or what the outcome will be.
Many healers who know of my new profession as a Building Biology Environmental Consultant tell me very sagely, “Do not become emotionally invested in the outcome.” Which means essentially that you can’t save everyone. This, ironically, is the very reason I didn’t go into Christian counseling as a profession, though I wanted to. I feared I would start bringing everyone else’s pain into my life and wouldn’t be able to leave work at the office. A compassionate heart is both a blessing and a curse. How do we love people as Jesus loves them—deeply, passionately, without reserve—and also compartmentalize ourselves enough to let them walk away without it destroying us?
When we begin to internalize their choices as our failures or successes, we lead ourselves down a path that ends in our self-worth being tied up in things of man and of this world. Our self-worth rests wholly in Jesus, in the fact that He first loved us. We don’t deserve His love, and He doesn’t need our help to save the lost, heal the sick, or mend the brokenhearted. To believe otherwise is to buy into a tricky self-deception the puts Me instead of God in the center of the universe.
And so I suppose the point of the story is this: I can only love people and bring healing to them inasmuch as I can also set them free to make their own choices. Each and every person God puts in my path to minister to, even if I come to feel like they are as close to me as my own family, none of these people are mine. They are God’s. And the only right thing to do is to let God work His work in their lives, apart from what I might desire for myself or for their lives and well-being. Through these experiences, I am beginning to understand the quality of the love my God has for me. He loves me so deeply, so intensely, so passionately, so unconditionally and so absolutely that His greatest act of love for me is to set me free.
He loves me no matter what I do, no matter how I disparage Him and ignore Him. No matter how grievously I defy Him, disrespect Him and betray Him. There is nothing I can do that will ever make Him stop loving me. I am free to choose exactly how I want to live, however awful I want to be, however disloyal and cruel and selfish. The King of the Universe is always there, waiting, wishing for me to return to Him but never forcing me to love Him.
There is no other religion on the planet that offers this kind of freedom, this intimacy of relationship, than the way of Yahweh, Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer. Friends, if you’ve never experienced this kind of love before, what are you waiting for? Don’t buy into the self-flagellating lie that would make you believe you have to earn salvation for the King who created the universe. You can’t earn it, make yourself worthy, or repay it with a lifetime of good deeds. It’s a gift, with no strings attached.
God is not in the business of gathering slaves to Himself. He simply loves us. And if you truly love someone, you set them free, whatever the outcome.