When we are confronted with egregious wrongs that cause human suffering, people typically respond with one of three differing emotions: indifference, outrage/indignation or compassion/mercy. Since indifference is a separate topic all together, I will not be discussing it in this blog.
Outrage/indignation are both inward-focused and a product of the human spirit. Outrage fuels a cause approach to human suffering, saying, “It hurts me to see you suffer,” Hurtful behavior is primarily seen as evil because of how it affects the observer so the observer’s anger and hurt become the primary focus.
COMPASSION/MERCY, ON THE OTHER HAND, ARE OUTWARD-FOCUSED AND A PRODUCT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. THEY FUEL A MISSION APPROACH TO HUMAN SUFFERING.
Causes tend to objectify the victims as well as the perpetrators of the suffering. Victims become impersonal examples that prove the validity of the cause. Also, causes almost never recognize the suffering of the perpetrator. Perpetrators become objects toward which the anger of the observer can and should be directed. Perpetrators are seen to be as evil as the acts they commit.
Compassion/mercy, on the other hand, are outward-focused and a product of the Holy Spirit. They fuel a mission approach to human suffering. Hurtful behavior is seen as evil because of its effect on the victims. A mission approach says, “Your suffering cannot be allowed to continue.” The emphasis is always on the victims and the alleviation of their suffering. Mission sees the perpetrator as victims as well. Victims are not made to be innocent, nor are perpetrators made to be evil. Neither victims nor perpetrators are objectified because both are included in the mission.
Herein lies the great implication for the Church. God did not call us to a cause, He called us to mission. Eliminating sin is not the cause of the Church. Rescuing victims of sin (both victim and perpetrator are victims of sin) is most definitely the “mission” of the Church.
Rev Donald Suiter