I have several main authors that have rooted in their teachings:
The first person, I must say that I am indebted to, would be Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Having read Bonhoeffer the summer before I entered college, I have a deep-rooted sense that my faith, my life, my everything cost everything by Jesus sacrifice and resurrection. His teachings of costly grace have moved me in such a profound way, that I was never the same after that.
The second in Henri Nouwen. Nouwen’s message of vulnerability has shaped me in such a way that my relationships could never be the same. The message of vulnerability, has prolifically torn open the spaces between my heart and mind.
Lastly is Brennan Manning. Brennan Manning’s message of grace has taught me how to work within the space that has been created. How to live in radical acceptance of myself, the world. How to believe in the God of Jesus.
Brennan Manning once said, and, I agree “I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery. ”
I am not always a compassionate person. I have cynicism, contempt, and, ill feelings towards others. Most of the time, I’m not like Jesus. That’s why I don’t always have the compassion of Jesus.
The compassion that Manning speaks of is a radically moving compassion. The word in Greek, for which it has been used to describe the compassion of Jesus is Splagchnizomai. Now Splagchizomai, if we look up the definition of it seems to disgusting. In Jesus day this feeling of compassion they say, started in the bowels. It moved your bowels. They believed it was the source of the feeling. But, what it really is, is this radical feeling where you are deeply moved by the brokenness of others. It is within itself, a part of empathy.
I don’t have this compassion for all people, like Jesus did. I have this compassion in several areas. When I hear about children being abused. When I hear about women being mistreated by men. When animals are abandoned. All of that is quite impersonal, however. In my day-to-day life. I have a person or two in my life, with whom I have this deep-rooted movement. I find myself in tears when I feel compassion. Sometimes, daily (what can you say, I’m a sensitive guy. I was a chronic thumbsucker as a child.) This doesn’t mean that I don’t have compassion on others that I am involved in, it just doesn’t move me like the people I am closest too. Frankly, I don’t have the energy for it. I know I have a long way before I feel this compassion for the multitudes like Jesus did.
The point is, are we being moved? Are there things or others who move us to compassion? Do we feel something beyond ourselves? Do we care to make a difference? I think this tender compassion, is the very thing that marks the heart of Jesus. We are called to love in this way.