Torrey Conference Blog
Day 2 - Thursday
By Patricia Diaz
“Christians are not liars,” said the Rev. Adrian DeVisser at tonight’s session, “but we sing lies.” I didn’t want to admit the truth of that statement, but the conviction was real. We sing about God’s sovereignty and our love for Him. We beg Him to inhabit our hearts and touch our lives. We say he is the only thing that matters. But we don’t really believe it. We don’t really act on it. And I know that in my life I have been ignoring millions and millions of suffering people, choosing instead to stay within the comfortable and seek only my own small ambitions.
I sat in my seat in the gym tonight staring down at the stage – at the passionate Sri Lankan preacher, pacing back and forth. I was struck by the certainty that here was a man who felt God’s pain for the broken world around us. For the colonies of “untouchables,” for the widows, the orphans, and the millions of children involved in the sex trafficking industry; for the unthinkable number of people who will go to bed tonight without a meal; for the lives that are slipping away to a hopeless eternity each second even as you read this post; for all who are marginalized and forgotten. And as I sat in my seat, I began to cry.
In that moment, I was overcome by my selfishness and utter unworthiness of the boundless love of Christ. That he chose me to be saved from among millions and millions! Most of all, I was shocked and horrified by how blatantly I ignore a suffering world. As the Rev. DeVisser cited statistic after statistic, I found myself instinctively trying to close my ears and mind. I did not want to understand the evil they communicated. I was just waiting for that part of the talk to be over so I could get on with the real business of my spiritual growth.
But as he continued on with story after story, the depth of his compassion for people I don’t even want to think about broke through. I could not push away the world’s pain any longer and instead found it crashing in and invading my own heart.
I realized that all my life I have spent closing myself off to suffering. I don’t want to experience the emotions that come when you stare into the face of evil. I don’t want to feel that pain. Instead, I reject it.
I need not look far to come across people who are hurting. The facts are there, available for anyone to see. But as DeVisser reminded us, compassion is not just feeling sorry for someone. It is not an emotional reaction, but rather a conscious choice of intentionally committing to care for others — and being willing to pay the price for that caring.
It all comes back to Christ and what he did on the cross. We can suffer and share in each other’s suffering because he endured more pain than we can imagine. We can care because Christ cared first. We can be a comforting presence in each other’s lives because he is always there in ours.
As both Kay Warren and Adrian DeVisser touched on, choosing to bring hope to people who are suffering connects us to God’s heart. When I cry, when my heart is broken and I allow myself to feel hurt for others, I am coming into closer fellowship with Christ. In opening up my heart to the pain of others, God opens up His and pours his compassion into my life.
We cannot possibly sacrifice any more than God did for us already by giving us Christ on the cross. With God we can make a difference in this broken world, DeVisser encouraged us.
“Do you want to make that difference?” he asked us. “If so, please stand.”
I rose to my feet with everyone else in the gym, tears still streaming down my face.
“I hope you understand what you’ve just done,” he said with a serious smile.
I may not. But I do know that God is working. Without a doubt the hymn “The Solid Rock” has been the definitive song of the conference this year. As I sing the refrain again, as we have dozens of times over the past two days, I can sense that he is making me a little less of a liar:
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
Response By Aly
When it all boils down, the only reason for a Christian to move is Love.
As I read this article I am reminded of why I write. My purpose has been distinguished by God, and He rescued me. By that, I am moved to share what I was freely given with the world, at whatever cost.
Three years ago, I found myself on my bedroom floor, shaking back and forth in a ball. Tears were milked from my eyes, continously. Brokenhearted. God responded to my hurt. I whispered a plea for peace and He instantaneously offered me just that. Tears stopped spilling, shut off like a fossit. God showed up.
One year ago I was entangled in sexual sin. God confronted me and directly pulled me out. Miserable, empty and addicted. God broke that bond and showered me with His affection.
Two months ago I was in my college dorm room, facing the reality that I could possibly be leaving my dream school in a week. After applying for countless loans, no bank was willing to lend my family money. Over twenty different people, many whom I have never met, decided to invest in my future within that week. God provided.
I am a writer, a poet, a musician, a student, a daughter, and a sister, but even more,I am rescued by the Creator of the Universe...
and as DeVisser emphasized, I was rescued for a purpose.
That purpose is not to simply rejoice in God, but to make the 'invisible' God visible to the world. To clothe myself in compassion, just like Jesus did. Like Patti restated, Compassion isn't an emotional reaction alone, compassion is a conscious decision to intentionaly commit to caring for others, and be willing to sacrifice for that cause.
That is a call, my brothers and sisters. That is a purpose to write over your heart. To enter into deeper communion with Christ, taking on the hurt that He feels for His people that are suffering, and making a commitment to respond on behlaf of Love.
So what next? It's time to go before God and present that very question.
p.s. For more from the insightful and heartfelt Patti Diaz, visit www.patiology.blogspot.com. It will be well worth your time, trust me*
Also, Patti is published in The Chimes. Visit http://chimes.biola.edu/