I spent 22 years as a police officer. Even though I was already 30 years old when I was hired, I quickly learned there was a lot about life I didn’t know.
I had grown up in a solid middle-class neighborhood in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Disagreements were handled without shouting or throwing things. People took care of their families and worked things out for the most part. There were difficulties and some tragedies, but people went to work and church, and their kids were in school, scouts, and sports.
Before I became a police officer, I was a waitress and bartender. That’s where I learned about what other folks considered most important. I was older than my new recruit colleagues and knew more about life than they did. But I wasn’t well acquainted with the underside of life, where the focus is on you and you alone—doing and taking whatever suits you without a thought for what it will cost another.
After 11 years as a patrol officer, I became a sergeant, and soon after, a Jesus follower. My perspective changed as I encountered those whose life choices had led them down such different and difficult paths that they required police intervention to help them sort it out. Rather than view them with cynicism and a critical spirit, I began wanting to serve them in a better way. I began to view my job as a calling from God. My sole desire became serving others like Jesus did. That shift in my focus produced new compassion in me for those who needed my help.
People often ask me if going from a police sergeant to a pastor was a tough transition. I say, “No.” My job as a pastor is very similar to the one I had as a police officer. I still get to help people consider the benefits of turning their lives around.
Andy Rectenwald, the Oregon Campus pastor, taught us that “serving like Jesus produces compassion in you.” He talked about our friend Candy, whose compassion for her neighbors led her to create a ministry for them. Candy is passionate about showing her neighbors the love of Jesus by providing them with food. Her eyes light up when she speaks of those she has served with a meal and had conversations. Candy’s passion produces compassion in others for her ministry and a desire to help her fulfill the mission that God has given her.
The question, “Who is your neighbor?” is one we must ask, answer, and act upon. Candy has done just that! Be like Candy!
Luke 10:33 (emphasis added)
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.”
James 2:14-16 (emphasis added)
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
If you want to love like Jesus, serve like Jesus!
Do you let compassion lead your service, or are you doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than a desire to please God? What in this world makes you angry with a holy discontent that you can address and help change?
If you want to serve like Jesus, you have to feel compassion like Jesus. Find a cause you are passionate about this week, learn how you can make a difference, pray about it, then jump in!
Father God, I beg that you break my heart for what breaks yours! Help me see people, especially those who don’t look or act like me, as your precious and beloved children. Show me how to reach out to them in compassion with your love. Draw them and me to yourself as we love and serve you as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.
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