That saying is easier said than done.
How do you have unconditional love and compassion for everyone? Probably the most quoted and most well known New Testament scripture is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world ...". The world. That means everyone, right?
While I was on staff at a church, we had to minister to parents that had just tragically lost their daughter. She was shot by a stray bullet just weeks after she started college. Her mother was a true example to all believers. She not only forgave the young man that pulled the trigger, she embraced him. She visited him while he was in jail, and ultimately testified on his behalf so that his life wouldn't be totally ruined because of one senseless act. She did this for the person who was responsible for the death of her daughter.
She showed great love and compassion. She hated the sin, not the sinner.
I visited an orphanage on a missions trip and had a great day being with the children, learning about the ministry and spending time with the founders. It was a great time of fellowship and hope seeing the orphans being loved and cared for.
As we were leaving the orphanage a few people from the group were speaking with one of the founders. I was already in the van and assumed that it was just lingering good-bye talk. When the van loaded no one spoke. It was late and I assumed that everyone was tired, I certainly was.
A few weeks after returning to the U.S. I learned what that conversation was about. In retrospect, I'm glad that God kept the information from me until I was back on U.S. soil. (I had my "alter ego" named by a co-worker. He named her Cybil. Cybil showed up during many different situations, but primarily when dealing with injustices. She had a bit of vigilante [Peter] in her. She felt that righteous indignation trumped "love thy enemies".)
The founder shared with the group that they had just received a call to expect a new child, a baby, the next morning. This nine month old baby had been taken from her family after her father sexually abused/raped her.
A. NINE. MONTH. OLD. BABY. She will have physical internal complications for the rest of her life.
How do you have compassion and love for the father?
How do you hate the sin, not the sinner?
It's two in the morning and I can't sleep because I find myself plagued by this question.
The father OBVIOUSLY needs Jesus. How do you share with him that, even though he did one of the most heinous acts that could ever be imagined, Jesus still loves him and died on the cross for his sins? That his sins, ALL of them - even the one that Jesus said could get him cast into the sea with a millstone around his neck - could be thrown into the sea of forgetfulness and removed as far as the east is from the west? All he needs to do is truly repent and accept Jesus.
How do you muster up that love and compassion?
Friends, I can honestly say I don't have the answer.
I'm not quite sure what Cybil would have done had she been on the same soil with that father when she learned of what he did.
Yes, I know how crazy that sounds.
Though, quite frankly that's where Cybil - I was during that time. I am convinced that God kept the information from me to keep me from trying to do something foolish. Thankfully, Cybil no longer holds a dominant place in my life, but having enough compassion and love for that father is still a place I have yet to venture.
I definitely hate the sin. I think I might actually hate the sinner ...
I find myself, as I am writing this, looking for a kairos moment. For God to open the floodgates of compassion in me so I can write about my growth. Realistically, I am going to have to pray through this.
Maybe for a little while. More than likely for a very long time.
I'm just not there yet.
I wish I were.
I wish I knew that in future circumstances and encounters I will reach out to the perpetrator in the same way I will reach out to the victim. Some situations will not be that easy. I know that. Jonah knew of God's compassion and tried to run away so he wouldn't be a vessel of that compassion (Jonah 4:2).
Right now, my prayer is that when my time to put compassion into practice comes - and it will come - God's love, grace, compassion and mercy will so overshadow me that I won't have time to think about or question it.
Please ... Be Just Around The Corner,
P.S. I welcome hearing from you and how you deal with showing love and compassion during extremely difficult circumstances.