Why do 80–90% of those making a decision for Christ fall away from the faith? What is the biblical principle that Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, etc., used to reach the lost? Why has the Church neglected it? Don’t let anything stop you from listening to this incredible teaching.
June 26, 2019
This is a transcript of the video above.
By God’s grace, I have been given the privilege to travel all throughout the country and different parts of the world sharing God’s Word to different audiences. Whenever I get the opportunity to travel, I typically like to take one of my five children with me. Last year, I had the privilege to go to Ohio and speak at a conference there, and so I took my firstborn son, Luke, with me on this trip. In the course of our journey, we found ourselves going through one of the busiest airports in the United States of America.
The Mystery Million
After we made it through security, which is often a miracle for this humble Arab, my son, Luke, looks at me and then points to the left-hand side and says, “Papa, look, look—one of our million-dollar bill tracts!” I look over and I kind of wipe my eyes and I think, “Is that really? Could that really be one of the million-dollar bill tracts from our ministry?” I start walking over to the police kiosk.
I walk up to this police podium, and I look, and I see this little stand with these little things sitting up on it, and I came to realize that my son was wrong. There was not a million-dollar bill tract from our ministry that was sitting on the podium. There was a whole stack of our million-dollar bill tracts sitting up on the podium. There are three officers sitting up behind the desk, and I look at one of them who started walking our way, and I look, and I go, “Excuse me officer, this is kind of strange. My ministry prints these up.”
He looks at me, and he goes, “E.Z.!” And I go, “No! It’s Ray Comfort, I had nothing to do with this.” He goes, “E.Z., I love your ministry man. I can’t believe this is you.” I’m just standing there like, “What’s going on here, man?” I go, “You put these here?” He goes, “Yeah.” I go, “They haven’t stopped you or anything? They haven’t busted you yet?” He goes, “Not yet.” I was just blown away. I remember I just got out one of my cards, I gave it to him. I said, “Please, brother, email me. I’d love to get in touch with you.” It was just amazing. So, I get back home and I find this email in my inbox from this police officer.
“Good morning, sir. As the subject line says, it was nice to meet you and your son yesterday at the airport. Yesterday was the first time I have ever set the tracts out at the law enforcement podium, even though the thought occurred to me a few years ago, when I first learned of your ministry through a homeschool conference. When my two partners and I arrived at the podium yesterday, I pulled out the tracts and set them up. They were curious and read the tract, including the gospel message on the back. That then sparked a conversation that lasted several hours. I used info from Ray Comfort, Voddie Baucham, Ken Ham, and all the other info I’ve pick up from a variety of sources, like the Bible.
“They were not getting it. They challenged me on everything from ancient aliens to ‘Why are the Jews God’s chosen people?’ Then you walked up, and you looked like an ancient alien.” No, just kidding. I added that part there. “Then you walked up. After you left, I had to explain who you were and the total improbability of you walking up at that moment. As one of my partners put it, it was like having an Amazon Kindle on display, talking about Amazon products, and then Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon walking up. Using God’s blessings of mobile internet, I showed them LivingWaters.com, ‘180,’ ‘Noah,’ ‘Evolution vs. God,’ and whatever else was up on the screen. After a ten-hour shift of witnessing, I believe they will begin following Christ.”
How awesome is that? I mean, think about the probability involved in all of those things that happened. Of all of the airports that me and my son could have been traveling through, it happened to be that one. Of all of the days in the two years that he had thought about doing this, that was the day he chose to do it. Of all of the days I was traveling, it was that day. Of all the security checkpoints we went through, it was that one. Of all the places my son looked, it was in that direction. Of all the things he could have been doing, he was witnessing to his co-workers. And through that God brought them the gospel, and Lord willing life and salvation. When you look at something like that, you think, “Oh Lord, how mighty is Your hand.”
Brothers and sisters, you can only imagine what a highlight this was in my own life on a personal level. After I read this email, I was like, “Whoa!” Floating on the clouds, you know. This was one of the high points of my life. Exhilarated. Thrilled. Overjoyed. Praising the Lord. And, oh brothers and sisters, how I so wish I could tell you that every day of my life as a Christian was like that day.
But, you know what, I am a man like you. I am made of the same stuff you’re made of. I have the same sinful nature that you have. I live in the same fallen world, dealing with the same kinds of weaknesses and struggles and shortcomings that you all deal with. And every day is not like that day for me.
But see, there’s something tricky in addition to that. Because along with the fact that I am a weak, struggling sinner that lives in a fallen world, and I have rough and tough and difficult days, I am also, at the same time, immersed with Christian things all around me. You guys know what I’m talking about. We have our Christian churches. We hang out with our Christian friends at our Christian coffee shops, listening to our Christian music, reading our Christian books. Some of us eating our Christian breath mints, believe it or not. Yes, Christian breath mints. I know some saints can use some sanctification in the oral hygiene department, but Christian breath mints? “Life Saver, brother?” “No, I only do Soul Savers.” Christian breath mints.
“We begin to lose focus, and we begin to forget who we are, and why God has put us here. We begin to forget that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ, who are called to be salt and light in the midst of a sinful, dying, fading world.”
And the tricky thing, in all of this, is that while we are filled with so many trials and difficulties and struggles and distractions, and yet we are surrounded with so many Christian things and are involved in so many different Christian activities, what ends up happening to us as Christians, because of those two elements combined, is we go on doing a bunch of Christian things, without the right Christian heart and attitude. You know what I’m talking about?
We begin to lose focus, and we begin to forget who we are, and why God has put us here. We begin to forget that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ, who are called to be salt and light in the midst of a sinful, dying, fading world. God wants to plead through us to the world to be reconciled to Him. That wherever we go, God wants it to be our aim, or goal, our number-one mission in life to live for His glory, and for His honor. We begin to miss that. We begin to forget that.
Life Is a Vapor
Brothers and sisters, let me tell you something. Life is quick. My father, my biological father, is 104 years old. He was born in 1911. I’m 83, but plastic surgery works wonders. My father, being 104 years old, you’d think, “Oh man. He’s been on the earth for such a long time it must feel to him like it’s so long.” But let me tell you something, I remember not too long ago, walking by his bedroom and hearing sobs coming out of his bedroom.
I walk in, and I see my 104-year-old dad standing there, looking at these pictures of his parents, up on his stand, crying like a baby. I said, “Dad, what’s wrong?” He said, “Oh, my mom. My dad.” Because to him, those 104 years have flown by so fast, that memories of his mom and dad, who passed away 50 plus years ago, are as if though they were just yesterday.
Time is passing by, and God has called us to be a certain type of people for His glory. But we live in the midst of a time when we have all these struggles, weaknesses, distractions. At the same time, we’re involved in Christian activity and are doing Christian things, it’s so easy for us to lose Christian attributes that are so important to possess. I believe one of the first and most important attributes to go in our lives, as we’re in this world to be salt and light, to be ambassadors for Jesus—one of the things to go while we’re doing Christian things, is the important attribute of compassion. A compassionate heart toward a lost and dying world, in the midst of which you and I live.
Today, I want to take a look at a passage in Mark, chapter 6, in which we see compassion demonstrated through the life of our Savior. Mark chapter 6, beginning in verse 30.
“Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.”
We Love “Real” Moments
Those of you who grew up in the ‘80s, like I did, know very well that in our time, we had very little by way of reality television. The shows that we were entertained with were typical dramas and sitcoms. They were scripted films, if you would, that held our attention. Things like the A-Team, and Knight Rider, and Airwolf, and Magnum, P.I. Right? I mean, the memories are flowing. Sitcoms like Different Strokes, and Happy Days, and Saved by the Bell, and Family Ties, and Growing Pains. You remember all of those? Brothers and sisters, I am still haunted by the Laverne & Shirley theme song ‘til this day. ‘Til this day, you know. “We’re going to do it.” It’s like, “Ahhhh!” It’s almost as bad as the Disneyland rides and stuff, that just keep playing on and on. I won’t even say it, so it won’t play in your mind right now. But, that was television for us.
But in the year 2000, television began to take a shift. It started with shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Suddenly, the networks and the producers started to realize, “Wait a minute, there’s a market here.” They saw their ratings go through the roof, and from there it just exploded. You know all the crazy shows that launched from that point, whether it’s been Honey Boo Boo, or Duck Dynasty, or Little Couple, or Little People Big World, or whatever. It gets crazier and crazier. It’s almost like a circus show, every day of the week, on television. But network executives recognized that they were on to something, and from that point, there was no turning back. Reality television now conquers the airwaves. And why is that?
Because these television producers and executives came to realize that there’s something in the human heart, there’s something that is a part of the human nature, that likes to see things as they are. There’s something in us that wants to see reality. We want to see things happen in real-time. We want to see people with their hair down, and with guard down, living life as they normally would. We’re intrigued by that. This passage here in Mark, chapter 6, if you would, is a reality television moment, in the life of Jesus and His disciples. It’s a moment during which we have the opportunity to see them functioning in the heat of the moment. To see them in the midst of chaos, if you would, and difficulty, and struggle, and to see how they respond, and how they react.
The Intense Context
In order for us to appreciate the compassion of Jesus that we see here in Mark chapter 6, we have to get a little bit of context. We have to get a little bit of context to the compassion of Jesus. So, we see in verse 7 of this chapter, Mark chapter 6, that it says, “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.” Then in verses 12 and 13 of Mark 6, it says, “So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.”
You have to understand that in the context here, Jesus just sent His disciples on a missionary journey, and as they went out they were preaching the gospel, calling people to repentance. They were casting out demons. They were healing people. And in Matthew 9, which we’ll look at in a moment, it tells us that Jesus was involved in those same activities as well.
At the same time as having just been involved in this intensive missionary journey, something else that was actually quite traumatic had happened. You’re all familiar with John the Baptist, the man who proclaimed righteousness and prepared the way of the Lord. King Herod at that time, had actually taken his wife from his brother and made her his. Her name was Herodias; she was a wicked woman. John the Baptist had called him to account on that, called him to repentance on that, and his wife Herodias didn’t like that very much, and she hated John the Baptist.
One day, it just so happened that Herod had a huge birthday party and Herodias’ daughter was dancing before him and all the men present. He was so impressed that he told her, “I’ll give you whatever you want, up to the half of my kingdom.” So of course, she ran to mommy dearest, and mommy dearest said, “I know exactly what I want. I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” So she ran back to Herod and said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
It says in Mark 6:27-29, “Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.”
Even in the Midst…
When we come to our passage here in Mark chapter 6, this is the context. This is the situation in the midst of which we find Jesus and His disciples. The disciples and Jesus had just finished this intense missionary journey, where they were preaching the gospel, where they were casting out demons, where they were healing the sick, which as you can image is exhausting and taxing work. John the Baptist who was their beloved friend, and the cousin of Jesus, was just brutally beheaded and buried. They get away to try to rest, and people are coming to them from everywhere, to the point where they didn’t even have time to eat. Now, the crowd follows them and finds them, again.
In the midst of all of this, it tells us that Jesus looked out at the multitude. In the midst of all of that, right? All of that struggle and tiredness and exhaustion, and grief at the loss of His cousin, and being overwhelmed. In the midst of all of that, this crowd shows up, while they were what? Engaged in Christian activities. And Jesus looks out on this multitude, and at that moment in time, in the midst of all of that, He was moved with compassion. He was moved with compassion.
It’s so easy for us to read a narrative like this, and just look at it in a way where we’re disconnected from it, but can you imagine that in your life? Can you imagine having just gone through one of the most difficult weeks of your life? Having worked 80 hours, having gotten sick in the midst of it? Having hardly had any sleep at all? One of your relatives just died, and you’re grieved and you’re mourning, and you hop on a plane to get away and you’re in Hawaii. All of a sudden, you hear a knock at your door. You open your door and there are five thousand people standing there. How thrilled would you be? Jesus in the midst of this, looked out on that multitude, and He was moved with compassion.
Looking Through the Eyes of Jesus
Matthew 9:35-38 is a parallel passage that gives us a little more insight into this. Matthew 9:35-38: “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”
This gives us a little more insight and expands a little bit on what was going on, and what it was that Jesus saw when He looked at these people and was moved with compassion for them. The passage in Mark tells us that He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. But there was something else about their condition when Jesus looked at them, that stirred His heart to where He was moved with compassion for them. This passage also tells us the action point, where He looks at His disciples and He says, “Listen, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few and the aim is to send out laborers into the midst of this harvest field that is full of these people who are weary and scattered.”
I love what it says in the gospel of John. It says that Jesus didn’t need anyone to bear witness to Him concerning them, because He knew all men. And He knew what was in them. When Jesus looked out at this multitude, in the midst of all of these adversities and difficulties and that exhaustion and the grief, He looked at them and He saw them for who they were. It says, “He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. Those who were scattered about and weary.” He saw them as weary.
That word weary literally means distressed. It originally means flayed, rent, mangled. It could also be rendered travailed, or even fleeced, like sheep. Jesus looked out on this multitude and He saw them for what they were. He saw them as weary. It says, “He saw them as scattered.” The word “scattered” means thrown down, prostrated, as if though they’ve cast themselves down from weariness.
Brothers and sisters, as you can imagine in a multitude, people put on all kinds of different faces. As people, we’re really good at putting up an act. Wearing masks. Leading people to believe certain things about us. But Jesus knew that there was something deeper, beyond what these people may have appeared like to the naked eye. Some of them appeared that way, no doubt, no question, at face value.
But He knew deep inside, that this is the nature and the heart of men. That men and women who are lost and without Christ are in that condition. They are distressed, they are flayed, they are rent, they are mangled, because they are under the influence and the control, as Scripture tells us, and we’ll see later, “Of the prince of the power of the air.” They are left to their own devices and walking according to their own worldly wisdom, which is foolishness. That in reality, spiritually speaking, they are cast down from exhaustion and are worn down to the bone.
Sheep Need Shepherds
One of the things I think we as Christians take for granted, is having Jesus as our Shepherd. Sometimes, I know with my own children who live in the United States of America, that is a country that has been blessed by God in so many ways, materially, and on so many different fronts, they often don’t recognize what they have. There’s times where I want to put them on a plane and take them to a third world country and show them how the rest of the world lives. I think sometimes, we as Christians just get immune to what we have in the Lord in the same way. We forget the privilege that we have of having Jesus as our Shepherd, the One who guides and leads, and directs every aspect of our lives.
Sheep without a shepherd. Sheep are dependent. They are a needy type of animal. They are a defenseless type of animal that is completely dependent on the shepherd. You often hear people talk about going out hunting. They go out and they hunt different kinds of animals. Some of them dangerous, some of them extremely wild. Do you ever hear someone say, “Hey we’re going to go out this weekend and hunt us some sheep.” No, because sheep are not wild animals per se. They’ve been domesticated to the point where they are dependent upon their shepherds. And what do sheep depend on their shepherds for?
First, they depend on their shepherds for guidance. They depend on their shepherd to guide them, to make sure that they avoid the pitfalls that may be in their way. To make sure that they’re kept from the edge of the cliff where they could fall and be destroyed. Oh, how blessed we are with the guidance of Jesus as our Shepherd. Brothers and sisters, the multitudes who don’t know Christ, don’t have that.
The shepherd’s job is not only to guide, but it’s to provide. It’s to take those sheep and not only make sure that they are led in the right direction, but to also provide for them. To take them to those rivers and streams of cool refreshing water. To take them to those pastures with green grass, through which they’ll be nourished and sustained. Oh, the guidance and the provision of Jesus in our lives. And the job of the shepherd is to protect the sheep. To protect them from the ravenous wolves that would come in and destroy them. How blessed are we to have the protection of Jesus in our lives, as our Savior?
The World Lacks Guidance
The world doesn’t have that. The world is without guidance. The world is without provision. The world is without protection. The world is shepherdless. And as Jesus looked out on this multitude, His heart was moved with compassion for them, because He saw them as those without provision, and guidance, and protection. Those that were shepherdless, who were mangled, and who were flayed, and who were cast down from exhaustion. Then He looks at His disciples, and He says, “Look. The harvest is plentiful. There are plenty of shepherdless people who have no guidance and protection, who are cast down, and flayed, and weary, and exhausted. But the laborers, those who have eyes and hearts of compassion to go in the midst of them and touch them, and bring them My truth, and My love, and My grace, they are few.” He says to them, “Cry out to the Lord of the harvest that He would send out His laborers into the harvest field.”
Do you think that Jesus had it as His intention that these disciples themselves would be the answer to that very prayer? Absolutely. And it’s His prayer that each one of us would be the answer to that prayer as well, as well as those who pray that very same thing: “Oh Lord, we live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We live in the midst of a world that is perishing, and we need Your grace to look at them with Your heart, with Your eyes.” That’s our challenge, brothers and sisters. Because in light of all that’s going on in the world, and in light of all that’s happening in our day and age, to where, oftentimes, I really have to step back and say, “Lord, is this really happening?”
“And as Jesus looked out on this multitude, His heart was moved with compassion for them, because He saw them as those without provision, and guidance, and protection.”
We were talking about this a year ago, and it’s been like punctuated equilibrium, and suddenly we find ourselves in a situation where we’re talking about things that are almost hard to grasp. They would have been things that generations past could not have even fathomed, and here we are. I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters, the temptation in my own heart is to get angry, unrighteously. Righteous anger is good. Scripture tells us, “Be angry but do not sin.”
There’s times where, in the midst of my anger, in the midst of all that’s going on in my own life and the busyness, and yet being involved in Christian activity, I find myself lacking that compassion. I look and I see it for what it is, and I call it what it is, but at the same time I recognize it. That those who are in the midst of it are lost and blind; they are weary and scattered. That they are sheep without a shepherd. I lack that heart that says, “Oh Lord, let me be You to them. Let me be You to them.” Because that’s what Scripture calls us to do.
1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” That’s our call as Christians. If we say we abide in Him, our calling is to walk as He walked. So as we see Jesus looking out on this multitude before Him, in the midst of all of that, we need to look and say, “Oh Lord, let me walk as You walked then, here. Now.” Ephesians 5:1 says, “Be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love, as Christ has loved us.” To imitate God, to walk as He walked.
The Meaning of Compassion
So Jesus looked out on this multitude that was flayed and mangled and distressed and cast down from exhaustion. Without guidance, without provision, without protection. A shepherdless crowd. And it says He had compassion. The word “compassion” means to feel deeply or viscerally. To yearn. To have pity. It means a feeling of distress for the ills of others. To suffer with another. To have mercy. To alleviate the consequences of sin or suffering in the lives of others. To bear. To treat with gentleness. That’s what compassion means.
It means we can look out at people, and when we look out at them, we feel for them. We yearn for them. We have pity for them. We have a feeling of distress for their ills. We suffer with them, as if though we were them. That leads us to a mercy, that makes us say, “Lord, I want to alleviate their consequences. I don’t want to just beat them down. I don’t want to be angry at them and rail at them. Lord, I want to enter their world, because I feel for them, and I want to help bring them out of it. In other words, I want to put myself in their shoes.” Because, brothers and sisters, when it comes to the world, we were once in their shoes. We quickly forget that.
You know, we as Christians often talk about how so important it is to guard against emotions, and it is. Because you know as well as I do that emotions are extremely deceptive. I could wake up one morning and I could be floating on the clouds. It could be the best day of my life. By the time I get in my car and get in the traffic, it’s a whole different story. Right? Like, “Bye, love you honey. Praise the Lord. Oh, I’m worshiping. Yeah, praise the Lord.” Someone cuts me off, “Grrr.” It’s like, you know what I’m talking about.
Emotions. Oh, emotions. Yes we’ve got to be careful of them, but at the same time, listen, God gave us emotions. There are times when emotions play a positive and appropriate role. That role is played when we look out at the world, see it for what it is, and we enter the world and we feel for them in the midst of their pain. We say, “Oh Lord, I’m Your disciple. I am Your ambassador. I am Your conduit through which You want to speak the truth to the world. So be it Lord, use me.” And we enter into that world with compassion.
Each Person Matters
Now there’s no doubt that when Jesus looked out on this crowd, there was a multitude. But remember, a multitude is made up of individuals, and while Christ saw them as a multitude, He also saw them as individual people. You can’t have a multitude without individuals. That’s where we have to re-orient our hearts and minds, because sometimes I think we blur our vision and we just see this big mass in front of us. We forget that there are people in that multitude like us. People with hearts, with feelings, with families, with stories, with struggles, with pain, with sin, with wickedness. You name it.
We forget that they’re individuals and there’s a danger in that. C. S. Lewis put it well. He said, “It is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital H, than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.” Wow. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving no one in particular.
It is easy, isn’t it, to forget the value of an individual. You see, we know the value of an individual, because we’re individuals, and to us, we are the most valuable things in the world. We don’t have a problem loving ourselves as people. That’s why when Jesus gave the command, the greatest command, right? Split in two, “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” Then all He said about us is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Because we know how to love self, but we need to learn to understand that just as we know ourselves to be individuals, there are individuals out there.
Our Compassion Must Be Genuine
Listen brothers and sisters, I need to tell you this, and you need to take this to heart and mark it down. People are not fooled by our facades. People know if we love them as individuals. People know if we genuinely care about them, or if we view them in our heart and mind as just a notch on our belt. Another brick in our spiritual platform to bolster ourselves and make something of us, or to appease our own conscious, or whatever. People know. I’ve had cultists talk to me and knock on my door, and I know what I am to them, I’m a number. I’m a notch. We need to love people.
I remember years ago when I was pastoring. There was a café next to our church, and every weeknight when we would have our service, a band would come and play. I remember one week in particular, this band had finished playing. They were outside. Our service hadn’t started yet, and there was a group of our people standing out there, and they were engaged in conversation with this band. They were unbelievers. As I was walking back and forth, I was hearing the conversation. At one point, I recognized that our people were not representing the compassionate heart of Christ towards these unbelievers in the way that they should have.
“People are not fooled by our facades. People know if we love them as individuals.”
So I remember, when there was a break in the conversation, as it was getting intense and our people were not being kind-hearted, and gentle, and patient, as Scripture instructs us to be, I walked up. I interjected myself into the conversation. I said, “Hey guys, I’ve been listening to my friends talk to you here. I just want to let you know that they’re sharing these things with you because they really care about you.”
I went on, and I looked at one of the guys in particular. I will never forget, his name was Seth. I started to hone in on him, because he was really listening and paying attention. I just started to share with him. I said, “Look, I just want to let you know, I respect you. I can tell as I’m hearing you talk, that you’ve looked into some of these things that you’re talking about, that you’ve examined them for yourself. I really respect that, because a lot of the people I talk to just don’t do that.”
I went and just started to share the gospel with them. I wasn’t compromising. I was sharing truth, the reality of judgment, their sinfulness. I talked about the love of God, and the cross, and the resurrection of Christ, and so on and so forth. As I was talking to these guys with gentleness, and tenderness, and love, and compassion, seeing them as individuals, you just saw their whole composure change. I remember seeing them going from tense, to their arms down, their heads shaking in agreement at different points, relaxed. I remember at the end of the conversation, I looked at this young man Seth. And I said, “Seth, I just want to let you know that I shared these things with you today because I care. I shared these things with you today because I love you.”
Then he looked at me in a way that I will never forget, and said something to me that I will forever treasure in my heart. After I said to him that I cared about him and I loved him, Seth looked at me, and he said, “I can tell. I can tell.” I get choked up, even now, sharing that, because I remember walking away from that saying, “Oh Lord, I pray that I will never have another witnessing encounter end in any other way than like that. That when I walk away from that individual, made in Your image, as wicked as they may be, as heinous as they may be, made in Your image, an image bearer of God, that when I walk away from them, after speaking Your truth to them, that they will know and see and understand and recognize that I truly and genuinely care.” Because that is the heart of love, and that’s the heart of compassion.
Compassion for Homosexuals
Right now, as we find ourselves in the midst of this whirlwind and storm, in light of what’s going on with homosexuality, maybe some of you step back and you wonder and you say, “How do I deal with this? How do I handle this? How do I talk to homosexuals, and what do I do?” I want to give you a fly on the wall view of this. A couple of months ago, in light of some of the things that have been happening in our country with people who have been trying to stay true to their conscious and not maybe bake a cake for a gay wedding, or render certain services, because it truly violates their conscious, I remember posting something on my Facebook page about how we, as Christians, need to stand for truth and not compromise, and all the while, do it in love. As I was looking through the different comments, I saw one that said, “Shame on you.”
I wasn’t exactly sure if that was in reference to me or something someone else said in the comments. So, I remember I went and I sent a private message to the person who had written that. I’m concealing his name for the sake of his privacy. I’ll call him John. I said, “John, greetings to you my friend. I hope you’re doing well. I noticed that you recently posted a response to one of my posts in which you said, ‘Shame on you.’ I wasn’t sure if that was directed toward me or someone else who had made a comment. It would be great if you could possibly give me some clarification. If I said something to offend you, I would definitely want to know what it was, so that I could hear your thoughts and think through it. Thank you so much, and God bless you.”
“How do I deal with this? How do I handle this? How do I talk to homosexuals, and what do I do?
Here was the response I got: “I have struggled with my sexuality since I could remember. Even at a young age, I felt a special affection for the same sex. You think you understand these things, but you have no idea how difficult a struggle and a life we live. You just like to talk, and a lot.” He was right about that. “I’m a child of God, and I know the Lord, as He knows me. You will never reach and save a homosexual, bi, transsexual, the way you are going. I’m a college student. I was saved years ago and studied the Bible then and now. I love all. Don’t bother me with preaching me a sermon. I know what you think and what you have to say about all of this. As a human being to another, have compassion, understanding, and love for others who are not like you. There are millions of lives who need real love and help, not just another cookie-cutter Christian who knows it all.”
I said, “John, thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate it. I will pray and think through what you said, and will respond after that. Have a blessed night.” So, that’s what I did. I stepped back. I calmed my heart. I sought the Lord, and I said, “Lord, how should I respond? Because John isn’t just another nameless face. John is an individual made in Your image and I want to love him with Your heart and Your compassion while telling him the truth.”
So, after praying and seeking the Lord, I wrote to John. I said, “John, thank you so much for your patience on my reply. As I had mentioned, I really wanted to give thought to what you had written, and to also pray over it. I know that this may be hard for you to believe, but I really do care about you. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult your struggle has been, and you have my deepest sympathy. If you were ever in harm’s way, and I happened to be present, I would readily take a bullet in your place. The Lord is witness to the sincerity of my heart in this regard.
“You are right, I do talk a lot. There are times I definitely end up regretting many of the things I say, and wish I could take them back. Obviously some of the things you’ve heard me say must have fallen short of true biblical love, kindness, and compassion. For that, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. You are also right that I don’t understand what you have been through or the struggles that you have had. I will honor your request and not preach to you. However, I would like to share some videos with you, from people who do understand your life and what you’ve been through. It’s fully up to you if you want to watch these. If you don’t, just simply ignore them. Here they are.” I shared three links with him, of testimonies from guys who used to be homosexual and had surrendered their lives to the Lord.
I went on to say, “If you would ever like to dialogue about anything or need anything at all, please know that I would be honored to speak with you, or serve you in any way I can. If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area, please come by Living Waters for a visit. I would love to give you a tour and treat you to lunch. Thank you so much for taking the time to correspond with me. I’m very grateful for that. Your friend, E.Z.”
Then John responded: “E.Z., thank you for showing love and compassion. It means a lot. I have been in a roaring storm that started my first year of college. I came to Christ before starting school. I came out to friends and family during my first year, because of my rebellion, even after being saved. I love the Lord. I know I have done wrong, and in this place and time, I don’t know what to do. God has been with me and my family. He has done miracles in our family, which is why I know He is with me. I feel my spirit and His voice calling me. My life is full of sin and I don’t know where to turn or what to do anymore. I feel like God has also been silent. I don’t know what He wants me to do. I tried praying and asking for help, but due to my participation in sin, I don’t think He is helping me. What can I do? I guess I know the answer to that. Thank you for caring. Sincerely, John.”
I said, “John, I’m deeply touched by how open you have been with me. I realize that you didn’t have to do that. I don’t take that trust lightly. I’ve been praying for you since receiving your message, and I’ll continue to intercede for you.” Then I asked him for his email address and said, “It’s difficult to talk on Facebook. I’d like to share a lot more with you. Can I have your email address?”
He gave it to me, and he said, “Thanks E.Z. My apologies for what I said. As I mentioned, life has been difficult, and sometimes my flesh gets the best of me. You don’t talk too much. I was upset. You have a great ministry and the way you talk is good. I’ve seen you and Ray speak many times. I’ve never felt that you said something offensive. You’re always respectful and kind. Have a great weekend, too.” I said, “Thank you, John. No worries at all. I fully understand that things have been very difficult for you. I’m so glad that we got to connect, my friend. I’m really looking forward to writing to you. Have a great weekend.”
Before I had a chance to send him my long email with more details in it, and the gospel, and so forth, he said, “Thank you, E.Z. I just want to let you know I’ve gotten right with God, and I’m running for His heart and everything. I don’t want to let go of Him and fall into that lifestyle again. As much as my flesh would love it, I choose God. I have watched some of the videos you emailed me, and they really ministered to me in a big way. So thank you, and praise God for a new season in my life.” Brothers and sisters, that is what compassion does. That is what genuine love and genuine care does. Our compassion should lead to action.
Compassion Leads to Action
Our compassion should lead to action. After Jesus looked at this multitude with compassion, it goes on to tell us in verses 35 through 44, that He fed the whole multitude of 5,000 people. That’s where He did the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. He did it again in chapter 8. He fed 4,000 with 7 loaves and a few small fish. It says in that portion, when He looked at them, because He knew they hadn’t eaten, it said that “He had compassion on that multitude.” Our compassion should lead to action in our words and in our deeds, and in what we do for people. We need to learn to take upon ourselves the burdens of others. That’s what compassion does.
Listen to this story. “Shortly after coming to Christ, Sadhu Sundar, a Hindu convert to Christ, felt called to become a missionary to India. Late one afternoon Sadhu was traveling on foot through the Himalayas with a Buddhist monk. It was bitterly cold and the wind felt like sharp blades slicing into Sadhu’s skin. Night was approaching fast when the monk warned Sadhu that they were in danger of freezing to death, if they did not reach their destination before darkness fell.
“Our compassion should lead to action in our words and in our deeds, and in what we do for people. We need to learn to take upon ourselves the burdens of others. That’s what compassion does.”
“Just as they were traversing a narrow path about a steep cliff, they heard a cry for help. Down the cliff lay a man, fallen and badly hurt. The monk looked at Sadhu and said, ‘Do not stop. God has brought this man to this fate. He must work it out for himself.’ Then he quickly added, while walking on, ‘Let us hurry on, before we, too, perish.’ But Sadhu replied, ‘God has sent me here to help this man. I cannot abandon him.’ The monk continued trudging off through the whirling snow while the missionary clamored down the steep embankment.
“The man’s leg was broken and he could not walk, so Sadhu took his blanket and made a sling of it, and tied the man on his back. Then, bending under his burden, he began a body-torturing climb. By the time he reached the narrow path again, he was drenched in perspiration. Doggedly, he made his way through the deepening snow and darkness. It was all he could do to follow the path. But he persevered though faint and fatigue, and overheated from exertion. Finally, he saw ahead the lights from the shelter. For the first time, Sadhu stumbled and nearly fell, but not from weakness. He had stumbled over an object lying in the snow-covered road. Slowly, he bent down on one knee and brushed the snow off the object. It was the body of the monk, frozen to death. Years later, a disciple of Sadhu asked him, ‘What is life’s most difficult task?’ Without hesitation, Sadhu replied, ‘Life’s most difficult task is to have no burden to carry.’”
Bear Other’s Burdens
Life’s most difficult task is to have no burden to carry. That story is so poignant. It was that burden that that man carried that actually spared his life. While the other man, without a burden, thought he was free and that his life was safe. But it wasn’t. And in the spiritual, to make the analogy, brothers and sisters, unless we carry a burden for this world—unless we look out at them as sheep without a shepherd, flayed and mangled and distressed, cast down from exhaustion, without guidance, and provision and protection, unless we see them with the eyes of Jesus, unless we carry their burdens on our own backs—our hearts will grow cold, and we will be spiritually dead. God does not want that for us, as His children. He wants us to be alive, burning with life. A heartbeat that is synchronized with His own.
As we look out on the multitudes, we need to see them with the heart of Jesus. We need to look at them and consider their plight. We need to remember the heart of Christ. You remember the woman caught in adultery? You remember the rich young ruler? Where Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more,” to the woman and to the rich? It says He looked at him, even after rejecting Jesus, it says He looked at him and He loved him. Even though He was just rejected by him, His heart was moved with compassion.
Remember Who You Once Were
Brothers and sisters, listen. The number one thing that’s going to keep our hearts beating with compassion for people, is to remember who we once were. Remember what Scripture tells us, Ephesians 2, beginning in verse 1: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh.” Then it goes on to say how God in His grace saved us.
Titus 3:3-5: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” He saved us. So we know what it’s like to be lost. We know what it’s like to be blind. We know what it’s like to be weary and scattered, cast down, shepherdless. In the midst of that, we need to look out at others with that same heart.
Have the Heart of Christ
We get so cynical oftentimes as Christians, don’t we? We see the homeless man on the side of the road, and we just assume that he’s just a lazy bum. We just assume, “Oh, this guy just doesn’t care. He’s irresponsible. He’s fleecing people. He’s just a con artist.” You know what, he might be, but behind all of that is a soul, a lost soul that’s on its way to Hell, because of sin. Do we love that soul? Are we willing to reach out with the love of Christ to serve that person with the gospel?
When you look out and you see the rich person, do you look out at them and say, “Oh, they just think they’re too good. They think they’re high and mighty and above everybody else. Look at them. They’re just lost in their own world. They think they’re above me. Forget them.” Or do you look at them and see behind that is a lost, condemned soul, that you have the gospel with which to reach them.
“Something needs to change in our hearts and lives, because God wants to use us to reach this world. He wants us to have the heart of Christ.”
When you look at the homosexual person, and you think, “How in the world could they do that? That’s so foreign to me. That’s so strange. That,” maybe, “is so disgusting to me.” Do you look at that person and recognize there’s a lost soul behind that? You don’t understand their life, or what they’ve been through, or where they’ve been. Yes, it’s sin. Yes, it’s depraved. Yes, it’s wrong. Yes, it’s wicked. But do you have compassion, or are you just personally offended? Something needs to change in our hearts and lives, because God wants to use us to reach this world. He wants us to have the heart of Christ.
They Will See Our Sincerity
Let me close with this final story. “It was a bitterly cold evening in Northern Virginia, many years ago. The old man’s beard was glazed by winter’s frost as he waited for a ride across the river. He heard a brigade of men on horses coming around the bend. He let the first one pass him, without any effort to get his attention. Then another passed by, and another. Finally, the last rider neared, and the old man caught the rider’s eye and said, ‘Sir, would you mind giving an old man a ride to the other side?’
“The rider said, ‘Sure thing. Hop aboard.’ Seeing the old man unable to lift his half-frozen body onto the horse, the horseman dismounted and helped the old man onto the horse. The horseman not only took the old man across the river, but to his destination, which was miles away. As they neared the man’s home, the horseman was curious, and he asked, ‘Sir, I noticed that you let several other riders pass by without making an effort to get a ride. Then I came up, and you immediately asked me for a ride. I’m curious, why on such a bitterly cold night, that you would wait and ask the last rider. What if I had refused and left you there?’
“The old man replied, ‘I’ve been around these parts for some time. I reckon I know people pretty good. I looked into the eyes of the other riders, and immediately saw there was no concern for my situation. It would have been useless even to ask them for a ride. But when I looked into your eyes, kindness and compassion were there. I knew that your gentle spirit would welcome the opportunity to help me in my time of need.’ Those heartwarming comments touched the horseman. ‘I’m most grateful for what you have said,’ he told the old man. ‘May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.’ With that, Thomas Jefferson turned his horse around, and made his way back to the White House.”
Pray for Compassion
May God allow us to have such a heart and such a spirit, that when people look into our eyes, they can see that genuine care, and that genuine love, and that genuine compassion. Because we recognize that life is more than about us. That even though we have struggles and trials and busyness, that even though we are emerged in Christian activities, and have so much by way of Christian stuff, we are living in the midst of a shepherdless people who are weary and scattered. Who are rent, and worn, and mangled. Who are without provision. Who are without guidance. Who are without protection.
We have Christ as our Savior, who one day came into our lives, and saw us as an individual in that multitude. Reached out, grabbed ahold of us, changed our lives, transformed us. Gave us the wisdom of His Word to guide us. Gave us His arms of love to protect us. And has promised us the hope of Heaven. As we walk that path, remembering who we were, and where we were, and where we’re at because of Him, may God pour us out with love and compassion in the midst of this lost and dying world, for His glory, and for His name’s sake.