Being like Christ is something we hear and for most of us desire. For most, we want to be respected like Christ, love like Christ; but we tend to think of that love only as being respectful and caring for those closest to us. In this assumption, we fall short of one of the most significant characteristics of Christ, an empathetic love for one another. As Christians, we sympathetically care for one another through phrases like “I’ll pray for you” or “Can I bring you anything?” These attempts to show Christ’s love, while supportive, are more sympathetic love than the empathetic love that Christ taught us. These are great ways to show love, to care for someone’s needs, but they are not a full picture of what it is to love like Christ.
John 11:35 (NIV)
The power of this verse is that the Son of Man brought himself into the pain of those hurting. Before he wept, he saw Mary weeping, and he was deeply troubled. In other words, the pain they were feeling became the pain the pain he was feeling. Christ, with his amazing love doesn’t just want to provide for us and see that our needs are met, he wants to mourn with you in times of sadness and loss; be joyous with you in times of celebration and victory, to such a deep a level that all of your sorrows and joys become his sorrows and joys.
The root of the empathy that Jesus shows is emotion. We can all identify the root of emotions be it anger, sadness, fear, joy, interest, surprise, disgust, or shame. It takes our experience with these emotions combined with overcoming the fear of recognizing these emotions, again within ourselves, to experience empathically sitting with someone. Too often we fall short of empathically sitting with someone because we fear it means surviving these emotions again, but in truth, it is a willingness to be like Christ and wear a hurt that has already been surrendered to bear the burden with a brother or sister.
Lord grant me the eyes to see those that are hurting and heart like yours to be with them as you are with us.