Thirty Three

Sometime in late Spring last year I made this blog completely private and shut it down due to some challenging circumstances taking place in my life in the real world. I figured today on my birthday would be a good time to finally relaunch it. I will cover some of my plans going forward for this blog and creative projects more in another blog post. Today’s post is about challenging myself to approach life differently this year.

I turned thirty three years old today and as I was driving to work this morning I began wondering to myself what significance there was in that. After all 33 isn’t one of those popular birthdays that people make a big deal about. And then it hit me that Jesus was 33 when he was crucified.

I began to think about how by 33 years old, Jesus had already impacted the lives of thousands of his contemporaries and of course billions of lives in the two millennia since then. Which caused me to question, in my 33 years on this Earth, whose lives have I impacted? Whose suffering have I eased? I don’t presume to think that I will be used in a way that will be remembered for millennia, because fame and personal legacy isn’t the point of Christianity. And I’m sure the people whose lives Jesus personally touched during his lifetime had no concept of the passage of time that would stretch out beyond that Earthly life.

Their focus and their hearts were touched then and there. Jesus showed compassion to the suffering people in his life in a way that I think for me personally gets lost sometimes. And I don’t think I am alone in that. I grew up with a mindset that many of the suffering people in this country are there by their own choosing. That poverty, substance abuse, and abusive relationships were something that could be risen above if only these unfortunate people would make different choices. A mindset that says that someone on government assistance must be lazy and chooses to stay on government assistance because it is the easy path. Sometimes I wonder if the rise of government assistance was fueled by a decline of charity from the Church or if the rise of government assistance fueled the decline of charity from the Church.

While there are certainly elements of truth in the above paragraph and for some people it is more true than others, what strikes me about this way of thinking is that nowhere in the scriptures do I see Jesus utilizing this same kind of cynical logic to excuse not easing the pain and suffering of the people around him. I was pondering today, what if the woman accused of adultery hadn’t listened when Jesus told her to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) Would He have said the same thing to her if their paths had crossed a second time under the same circumstances? Would He have then condoned the stoning that the accusers had wanted in the first place? Any answer to these questions is pure speculation of course and I don’t pretend to know the mind of God.

My point here is that, Jesus lived a life of compassion towards humanity during His time here on Earth. Most of the miracles He performed were driven by being moved to compassion by the suffering of people around Him. If we are Christians, people who embrace the teachings of Christ, should we not live the same way?

Every year I choose some kind of theme for the year for my life. I’ve been doing this for many years now and I don’t even remember how it started. This year I want to make my theme Compassion. It is probably one of the more challenging themes I have ever given myself because it requires effort beyond my house, beyond my family and out into the world to help heal the hurting and the lost with compassion.

Last year’s theme was Accomplishment and I failed at it completely. It was a theme built around the idea of finally accomplishing some of my long-term creative goals. And I didn’t accomplish any of them. I should probably more upset about that but 2014 is over and living in the past won’t fix it.

So I am moving forward into 2015 with the compassionate actions of Christ as my guide and knowing that successfully embracing that theme will be a bigger accomplishment than anything I had hoped to do for myself in 2014.

 

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