Compassion in the Church – by Pastor Jose Cortes Jr.
After I finished my sermon at the Youth Auditorium, in one of our Campmeetings in western United States many youth and young adults came to say hello and to thank me for the message. Yet I noticed a young man, he was about 18 years old, he waited for about 15 minutes to talk to me. He was not alone, his cousin accompanied him. He was not waiting to give me a high five and tell me how good the sermon was, he had something to say; something that shocked me, saddened me, and gave me lots to think about.
“This weekend, I am giving God one last chance. I came to Camp and asked God to prove me that He exists that He is really there. If He does not answer, I am done with the Church, and with God.” He went on to tell me that his parents had been deported recently and that he had been left alone in this country. He also mentioned how he had not received any love or support from his church since he was left all by himself. “Two weeks ago I got a tattoo on my arm and went to church knowing I would be rejected, and I was, from the moment I went in till I left, everyone looked at me weird and different, I wanted them to prove me wrong, but I was right, they mistreated me.” He finished with the following punch line: “It is easier to believe in Satan than to believe in God, because I see more people who act like Satan, than people who act like God, in the Church.” I feel bad writing this, but that is exactly what he told me; and I am really hoping that this young man’s experience is the exception to the rule, but is it?
I was so distressed with the Conversation, I tried really hard to give the young man some affirming and kind words. I explained that God is love and that people, even in church, do not always reflect his love. God knows I tried my best, as I saw the tears on the young man’s face, I hugged him, but I am afraid that everything I tried was not enough, I felt he left unimpressed and still hurt. I checked with him throughout the weekend and he continued to say “Everyone is looking at me funny, I knew this tattoo would do it, this is my last weekend in church and believing in God.”
Jesus was full of compassion, He came to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:20). Jesus founded the church expecting His followers to have His priorities. Really? If that is the case, why did this young man find more reason to believe in Satan than in God at church?
“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matthew 9:10-12)
Next time you see a sinner at church, remember Jesus… Oh and think of the Compassion He had and still has for sinners… and for you! Yeah, you are a sinner too.