Gay people break-up another hetero-marriage

Gay marriage continues to be a hot-button, political, cultural and religious issue. No matter what side of the issue you fall on, this tongue-in-cheek Open letter makes a far more serious point. Inside the church walls “The Bible says…” may work. Outside the church, say in public policy and legislation, a different standard applies. To advance legislation that prevents one act while supporting another on moral grounds requires evidence that the prohibited act is morally harmful or substantially inferior to the supported act. In this case the question is wether gay marriage will harm marriage as an institution. The elephant in the room is identified in this open letter. It’s easy to identify because Amy Koch, proponent of a constitutional amendment define marriage in a way that forever excludes the possibility of gay marriage, had an illicit affair with a subordinate.

My mom taught me that two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s true. Her affair doesn’t mean gay marriage is ok. What it does do is undermine the notion that it’s gay marriage that undermines heterosexual marriage. It’s not. Even among the most religious, marriages fail at a rate of 50%. We need to worry more about our societies seaming inability to make and keep commitments, resolve conflicts, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, love someone by putting their needs above your own, and so on.

Check out the open letter and weigh in!

An Open Apology to Amy Koch on Behalf of All Gay and Lesbian Minnesotans

Dear Ms. Koch,

On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage. We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an “illicit affair” with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.

We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry. And we are doubly remorseful in knowing that many will see this as a form of sexual harassment of a subordinate.

It is now clear to us that if we were not so self-focused and myopic, we would have been able to see that the time you wasted diligently writing legislation that would forever seal the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, could have been more usefully spent reshaping the legal definition of “adultery.”

Forgive us. As you know, we are not church-going people, so we are unable to fully appreciate that “gay marriage” is incompatible with Christian values, despite the fact that those values carry a biblical tradition of adultery such as yours. We applaud you for keeping that tradition going.

And finally, shame on us for thinking that marriage is a private affair, and that our marriage would have little impact on anyone’s family. We now see that marriage is more than that. It is an agreement with society. We should listen to the Minnesota Family Council when it tells us that marriage is about being public, which explains why marriages are public ceremonies. Never did we realize that it is exactly because of this societal agreement that the entire world is looking at you in shame and disappointment instead of minding its own business.

From the bottom of our hearts, we ask that you please accept our apology.

Thank you.
John Medeiros
Minneapolis MN

Relax, it’s not really Jesus (or Tim)

I’m not sure how many Christians were upset with that skit, but it could quite possible serve as a litmus test for whether or not you have a sense of humor. In the process of making people laugh, however, the folks at SNL also managed to hit on a number of important issues.

  • Expressions of faith in the public sphere: when are they genuine, when are they over the top, when are they vain?
  • Does Jesus really care about football (or country music, beauty pageants, etc.) ?
  • Does God intervene in response to prayer requests about anything and everything?
  • If Jesus does intervene, does that over-ride human will, ability, etc. Does Jesus always win?
  • What is the role of human preparation and participation in securing a good outcome?
  • Is prayer a short-cut around proper preparation?
  • Can our expressions of faith ever be too much (or too cheesy) for Jesus?
  • Does there come a point when pointing to Jesus after every touchdown or thanking him after every award and so on becomes like the Pharisee that prays on the street corner to draw attention to himself?
  • Is there a huge disconnect between what Jesus did and taught and what his people believe?
  • If Jesus showed up when you were talking about him, would he affirm what you are saying or correct you?
If you can get beyond being offended, or thinking it’s just a joke, there are substantive questions raised in the skit. The questions hit on some of the claims of Christians that seem incredible, if not outright silly, to others. They also raise important questions about the relationship between God and the everyday, mundane, events that govern our lives.
Watch the clip again. Only this time, right down all the theological questions you hear being expressed in the skit. How would you answer them? Are they questions that you have, too?

My Bible doesn’t say that?

Today, we don’t differ much over what the Bible says, we differ over what the Bible means.  This highlights the differences in the way we interpret what the Bible says.   This opens up the larger issue of HOW we interpret the Bible.  In my nearly 20 years as a pastor, I’ve discovered that  most “folks in the pew” don’t think much about that.  Yet, it’s important.  There is a difference between the way a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical or an Anabaptist or an Atheist engages in the interpretative task.  That means that their understandings of what the Bible means vary significantly.   If you are a “person in the pew” this excellent post by Andrew Perriman  explores the “historical-metaphorical” hermeneutic (a hermeneutic is an interpretive lens or how you interpret the Bible) of Marcus Borg (a “liberal” Bible scholar).  If you are a pastor (or anyone who engages in public preaching and teaching of Biblical texts) you may find the post challenging (especially concerning how we are tempted to result to metaphor when we find aspects of the Biblical story incredible).

Marcus Borg’s “historical-metaphorical” hermeneutic | P.OST.

Andrew’s post is a peek behind the curtain, revealing the kind of work your pastor does in his study long before he or she steps into the pulpit.  It might also help you see why a Mennonite pastor, a Roman Catholic priest, a mainline pastor, and a conservative evangelical pastor come to differing conclusions as to what a text means.


Cardinal Sin

Banksy is at it again, this time making a statement about  sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Entitled Cardinal Sin (see it here), the new work features a bust of a cardinal with his face sawed off.  In it’s place are bathroom tiles, creating a pixilated effect.  When I first saw the picture, I thought it had been purposefully obscured by BBC in order to hide what Banksy actually did to the bust.  The effect is that the cardinal seems to be hiding behind a pixilated effect similar to the way criminals hide their faces on TV interviews.

In a statement, Banksy said, “I’m never sure who deserves to be put on a pedestal or crushed under one.”  He also said, “The statue? I guess you could say it is a Christmas present.  At this time of year it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity – the lies, the corruption, the abuse.”

As a Christian…

I love Banksy and his work.  I have some choices to make regarding his contention that the true meaning of Christianity is “the lies, the corruption, the abuse.”  I can conclude that he’s talking about a man-made system, led by broken – in the case of the Roman Catholic Church – men, who have been corrupted by power and wealth (Yes, the Roman Catholic Church is quite wealthy).  It gets me off the hook, as a Mennonite, so it’s tempting.  However, it doesn’t allow me to experience the full weight and horror of the critique.

As you think about the true meaning of Christianity, measure what Christians do today against the life and teaching of Jesus.  The distance between the two will be filled with lies, corruption and abuse.  It isn’t just “them” it may very well be “Us”, too.

The Divided Life

The divided life is wounded life, and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound.  Ignore that call, and we find ourselves trying to numb our pain with an anesthetic of choice, be it substance abuse, overwork, consumerism, or mindless media noise.  Such anesthetics are easy to come by in a society that wants to keep us divided and unaware of our pain – for the divided life that is pathological for individuals can serve social systems well, especially when it comes to functions that are normally dubious.

Parker J. Palmer, A hidden wholeness

Tell me what I want to hear!

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (NIV)

– 2 Timothy 4:3

When the Apostle Paul wrote those words to a young pastor named Timothy, I doubt he could’ve imagined where we are today.  Our technology gives us an even greater ability to do what Paul warned Timothy people would do.  With our remote controls, radio dials, amazon 1-click shopping, and mouse clicks we can surround ourselves with people who say what we want to hear.

I bet we can all think of someone we think does just that.  Usually it’s in the realm of religion or politics.  The question is, do we do it too?  Do you gather around you a great number of teachers to say what your itching ears want to hear?  To date, I haven’t had anyone tell me, “Yes, that’s what I do.”  Yet, I have a growing suspicion that we all do it more than we care to admit.

Sound doctrine?

2 Timothy 4:3 is about sound doctrine and “those people” that won’t tolerate sound doctrine.  But what is sound doctrine and who gets to decide?  This is the problem.  In the past, when our worlds were smaller, most people were exposed to a limited range of ideas.  When it came to religion, that usually meant their home church, the faith of their family, and/or the dominant faith of their community.   For example, I grew up in a small, rural town.  We had three flavors of Christianity. I never heard of Islam, what I heard about the Jewish faith was all wrong, I never met a Hindu or a Buddhist and I didn’t even know what I didn’t know about the diversity of faiths – even within Christendom.

Fast forward to today and I’m a google search away from information about any faith.  But is that any better?  In my youth, a great many faiths remained anonymous to me.  I simply didn’t know they were out there.  Today, that same diversity of faiths is hyper-nonymous.  I know they are out there, but there is so much information available that I’m overwhelmed.  I can’t possibly take it all in.  Just because I can access more information today doesn’t mean that I know that information any better or that the information impacts my life in any meaningful way.

So what do we do?  We do what Paul warned Timothy we would do, but it takes a different shape.

In theory there is such a thing as sound doctrine (and we can talk about how we define that, the role of reason, experience, tradition, and so on).  In practice, especially within a hyper-individualistic culture like America, individuals often decide what they believe to be sound doctrine.  That decision is the beginning of the journey to gather around you a great number of teachers who say what your itching ears want to hear.

The process?

Once a person defines sound doctrine the foundation is laid.  Future messages are then critiqued on the basis of what they already believe to be sound doctrine.  If what is heard doesn’t match what is already believed, it becomes suspect or it is rejected altogether.  If a person does this long enough, what is the result?  They, de facto, have gathered around themselves a group of teachers (preachers, authors, radio personalities) that preach and teach what they already believe to be sound doctrine.  If they are people of good will, it usually ends there.  If not, there is another step.  Armed with Paul’s description of people who don’t tolerate sound doctrine, they label people with divergent views.  Those are the people Paul was talking about who want their itching ears tickled.

The ability to believe particular things, while being open to other understandings, in the spirit of open dialog, is becoming a lost skill.  Helped along by slogans like “If you don’t believe something, you’ll fall for anything”, we are often encouraged to shelter ourselves from divergent views and close our ears to divergent voices.


How do we resist such a move?  After all, growth requires change and the subject of God requires humility.  Well, before Paul warned Timothy about people with itching ears, he gave him a charge.  He wrote;

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you:  proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”  (NRSV)

– 2 Timothy 4:1 – 2

How do we resist such a move?  Find a pastor who is resisting, too.


You should know that many Pastors today are pressured to tickle ears.  In a culture that defines church success by pennies in the plate and people in the pew, preaching can often become about something other than proclaiming the message.  What folks (often church leaders) want the pastor to do is tell a few good stories, provide a little personal application, walk around and smile, help people understand the Bible in a way that supports what they already believe, and so on.  Just don’t challenge people, and if you must, make sure you challenge them in an area that they think others may need, but not themselves (picking on gay people usually works).  OR, even better, challenge them to become better Americans who are living the American dream “Christianly” (I recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for this one). OR, better yet, just preach American triumphalism and manifest destiny and wealth as God’s reward for how faithful we have been.  Whatever you do, Pastor, DON’T take Jesus at his word  as if he actually expected his followers to follow him.  That can be devestating.

Even when people say they don’t want a pastor to do that, they often do.   People don’t want pastors that talk about doing what Jesus actually taught and did.  People want pastors to affirm what they already believe Jesus taught and did, even if it looks strangely un-Jesus-like.  At the same time, even when Pastors don’t want to do that, they often do.  Pastors want stable tenures at successful churches, even if that is defined more by culture than Bible.


Paul was encouraging Timothy to be a substantive pastor.  He was warning him not to give in to the direction many people will want to go.  He was exhorting him to stand firm and persevere in his calling.   AND, by inference, Paul was asking all people of faith to ignore the itching in our own ears and remain open to the teaching and direction of those they have called to pastor them.  Paul is calling for substantive followers of Jesus, too.

In order for that relationship to flourish, some other things need to be substantive as well.

Substantive conversion:  I’m not suggesting we become the salvation police by interrogating others, but I do think we have become a bit too relaxed (at times) when in comes to conversion.  Going from death to life, darkness to light, sin to Jesus, is too important not to treat as important.  Are you ready to go all in, as you live out the way of Jesus?  Are you turning from sin and self and turning towards Jesus, your Lord and Savior and Lord (in case you forgot the Lord part)?  Are you ready to be baptized into the visible church as a testimony to your commitment?  Is the church willing to stand with you, thus vouching for your faith?  Without substantive conversion, the church becomes a strange mix of folks that are vaguely Christian, whatever that means to them, and not overtly non-Christian.

Substantive transformation:  Michael Simpson once wrote (I’m paraphrasing) that if you can’t tell how your life would’ve been different without Jesus, in concrete terms, you probably haven’t experience conversion or substantive transformation.  What did Jesus save you from?   What were you like before you became a follower of Jesus?  Where would you be today if you hadn’t decided to follow Jesus?  How are you more like Jesus today than yesterday, or last year or last decade?  Without substantive transformation, the church becomes a strange mix of folks that claim great things from a God who can change things, but who don’t experience it in their midst – which is a kind of faith without power.  When faith isn’t about conversion and transformation (justification and sanctification or salvation and discipleship) then it becomes about other things.  When it becomes about other things – like being successful or bigger or whatever, then the chance of sliding into “ear tickling” gets higher.

Substantive calling:  People don’t much talk about calling anymore.  It’s rare for people to ask, “Tell me about your calling?”  This is true for pastors and folks who aren’t pastors, too.  Tell me about your vocation?  What has God created you to be and do? What role do you play in advancing God’s kingdom with your time and talents and treasure?  This isn’t about how you make a living, but how you spend your life.  If the folks in the church don’t have a good grasp on their calling as God’s people and their unique role in building God’s kingdom alongside Jesus under the power of the Spirit, than church will become about other things.  Often times it becomes about getting our itching ears tickled to make us feel better about the choices we’ve already made, even if they aren’t remotely related to following Jesus.

Substantive training:  Everyone likes to bash Cemeteries, I mean seminaries.  And yet, the training they provide is essential to providing good pastors for the church.   I admit that there are a great many aspects of being a pastor that overlap with other professions.  Things like leadership, administration, management, public speaking, and so on.  But there are many things that don’t.  Doing theology is not the same as having opinions and beliefs about the Bible.  Preaching is not just religious public speaking, it’s a different task.  The preacher is responsible to more than just the congregation.  They are responsible to the text itself and ultimately to the God who authored the truth they are trying to impart.  Being a Bible teacher is the only vocation in scripture that carries with it the weight of heavier judgement.  [Think about that when you ask your pastor to preach a Bible passage but only in 20 min. because there is a coffee time before Sunday school and people don’t want to get to lunch late.]  A funeral message isn’t just about delivering a nice eulogy that makes a family feel better, it’s important in a healthy grief process.  When it comes to pastoring most people are at square one: they don’t even know what they don’t know.  It takes training to do the task.

If a congregation isn’t appreciative of the value of training for their pastors, they are especially open to having their itching ears tickled.  Why?  Because in a consumer culture like America they will gravitate towards what they want to hear, not what they need to hear based upon the assessment, understanding and skill of their pastors.

Tickling ears?  It’s not what pastors should do.  It’s not what congregations should demand.  Let’s keep moving towards substantive conversion, transformation, calling and training.

Bad theology compounds tragedy

When tragedy strikes, our impulse is to want to help those who are hurting.  That is a good impulse, and a God-given one as well.  The temptation, and the danger, present for people of faith is that in our helping, we choose words that may comfort, but that are not true or, at the very least, are beyond our knowledge.

I was first made aware of this watching an on-the-scene newscast following the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, MN on August 1, 2007.  In that collapse, 13 people died and 145 were injured (1).   A reporter was interviewing a man who had escaped injury in the collapse.  I remember the reporter asking, “How does it feel, knowing that God spared you from harm?”  The reporter was viewing the events and seeing God’s saving hand.  What the reporter failed to think through was the theological ramifications of the question.  IF God did indeed intervene of behalf of this man he was interviewing, what does that say about God’s apparent lack of intervention on behalf of the 13 dead and 145 injured?  Was God unable to help them?  Was God unwilling to help them? What gives?

What many people don’t think through is the unspoken truth claims that are present with what is spoken.  It is here that bad theology compounds tragedy.  When tragedy strikes we often try to make meaning and provide comfort.  Even when things are meaningless, or senseless, we try to make meaning or sense of them.  Often times, we make sense of the senseless by invoking a God that is bigger than what we don’t understand or comprehend.  The problem is that in the myopia of our grief/shock/loss/etc. we cling to expressions that may comfort, but that are incomplete.  Take a simple phrase, “God is in control”.  What does that mean exactly?  It’s easy to say.  It’s harder to define in a way that makes sense of the world around us and doesn’t end up making God look petty, mean and downright evil in some respects.

So how do you respond to tragedy?  How do you walk with a friend, neighbor or family member struggling with grief and loss?  A few things that might (not) help;

  1. You can’t fix it.  So don’t try.   We are tempted to try to say the right thing that will make it all better.  It seldom helps and often leads to saying things that are comforting in the moment, but may not be helpful in the long run.
  2. Be present.  Don’t run away.  We are tempted to distance ourselves from those who are grieving/sick/dying/etc.  Keep moving towards friends who are grieving.  It’s hard.  Be present.
  3. Be safe.  Give those grieving the permission to be as they are.  Everyone grieves in different ways at different times.  Don’t judge someone or try to force a particular way of being onto them.
  4. Be wise.  What you believe and what you know are two different things.  Talking about things you believe as if they are facts is often where bad theology enters the scene.  Being certain of what you believe doesn’t make what you believe certain.
  5. 3 Key Words:  I don’t know!  This is the best answer to a question for which you do not (or couldn’t possibly) know the answer to.  We are sometimes attempted to affirm ideas that might not be true that others express in their grief.
  6. Be honest.  I was once asked, by a grieving mom, if God took her adult daughter via death because God needed her in heaven.  I was tempted to say “yes” to comfort her.  I said “No. I don’t believe so.”  Saying “yes” might have alleviated my discomfort, but it would not have helped the mom in the end.  In the end, when the fog cleared, she would have lost trust in me or God or both.
  7. Pray.  I believe prayer works on multiple levels.  I believe that God is real and listens to our prayers.  I also know that prayer helps people express thoughts and talk about things that they might not express in other forms of communication.  [That last statement doesn’t imply there isn’t a God who is listening, it simple means that prayer works on multiple levels. I suspect God knew that when God told us to pray.]
  8. Keep walking.  Caring for friends, loved ones and neighbors in times of tragedy is not a “one and done” event.  It’s the continuation of a relationship that existed before the tragedy and still exists after.  Keep walking together, good friends are hard to find.
  9. Be suspicious of…cliche’s, religious platitudes, shibboleths, short cuts to the grieving process, scriptures taken out of context, slogans of any kind, anything that might fit on a bumper sticker or t-shirt, advice from church signs, and so on…  Life is usually more complicated than that (and a lot more messy).
  10. Think deeply.  If you are going to speak into tragedy, or any situation, on God’s behalf, do your homework first.  There is a reason that James (letter in the New Testament) warns teachers that they will be judged more strictly.  That reason is the extreme amount of harm you  can cause by representing God poorly or inaccurately.  That is not to say that you will ever understand God fully, or that you must fully understand God first.   It is to say that there is a body of orthodoxy (right belief) that has been discerned through the ages by thoughtful Christians.  Read the scriptures.  Delve into historic orthodoxy.  Understand your own faith tradition.  Try to learn about others.  Find a great debate partner as iron sharpen iron.  WRESTLE with the texts.  Whatever it takes.  Just don’t say things about God glibly or flippantly.
  11. Grieve.  Often times those of us bent on helping others forget that we are grieving too.  If those close to you are hurting, it’s impossible for you not to be hurting too.  Deal with your own grief.  Don’t use “helping others” as a denial strategy for your own process.
  12. Love first, last and in between.  enough said.

One final word that applies to everything above.  There are professional grief counselors.  It’s important to know when you or someone you care about is drowning.  Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help!   It’s available.

Please stop it!

This is a video worth watching, especially if you’ve ever used your faith to justify hating someone who is gay.  Which leads me to my next point, which may not be popular.  I don’t care if you believe the Bible says being gay is a sin, however you understand that. If what you do and say contributes to another human’s distress, directly or indirectly, such that they would rather die than live,  what you are doing and saying isn’t from God.  Please stop it.

The hidden cost of compassionate consumerism (revised)

“In the very consumerist act you buy your redemption from being just a consumer.”

“My point is this very interesting short circuit where the act of egotist consumption already includes the price of its opposite”

– Slavoj Zizek

It seems misanthropic to take a company like TOMS shoes, and companies that operate on a similar business model, to task.  Who can argue with this: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need.  One for One.”  It’s clear that there are children in the world today that didn’t have shoes before TOMS came along.  That’s a good thing.

The question is, do we settle for a good thing because the cost of a better thing is too much?

To me, this is the best case scenario; that everyone in the global family would participate as productive citizens of a community, earning enough resources through their work to supply the basic needs of their families, and collectively being able to provide for the basic needs of their community.  That is a vision of a world where God’s shalom is present.  It is consistent with “manna economics”, found throughout the scriptures.  The one who gathers much should not have too much and the one that gathers little should not have too little.  The world would work better that way.

It’s clear that for the best case scenario to become reality, some radical reshaping would have to take place.  A number of things hinder this radical reshaping.  One, those who benefit from the current system are not eager to give up those benefits.  Two, those who are hurt by the current system have little power to change it.  Three, those who benefit tell powerful myths that rationalize why they have the benefit and others don’t (i.e. the myth of equal opportunity, everyone can make it if they try hard enough, my benefits are a result of my hard work, God is helping those who help themselves, and so on.) Four, the haves and the have-nots rarely meet, get to know one another, share stories or become friends.  There are likely more, but that will suffice.

The arena where all of this plays out within consumer capitalism is the mall.  Nobody will know you are a person with resources unless you use those resources externally.  Since wealth is related to status and status can’t be seen in the closet, people with resources can’t help themselves when it comes to consumption.  Even if people can’t afford the best, they tend to buy the best they can afford (unless they are uncomfortably aware of their social status).

This is where it gets tricky.  Due to the influence of media technology, the world is shrinking. Increasingly, that means that we live in a world where we are aware of the disparity of wealth, resources, life-style, access to basic services, and so on.   Not knowing used to provide a level of distance from the reality that to be on top in our system depends on exploiting others.  Today, it is getting harder, if not impossible, to claim that you don’t know.

So what do good people do?  Consumption is tied to identity and place in the community. The myths that fuel egotist exceptionalism (I’m blessed because of something inherent in me that makes me successful for makes God like me more) are under assault from multiple streams of truth coming from flat screens of all sizes.  It’s increasingly difficult to avoid the reality that those on top benefit from the exploitation of those on the bottom.  Is there a way out?

Enter the redeemer: compassionate consumerism.  Compassionate consumerism promises to resolve the crises by embedding the solution to egotist consumption within consumption itself.   Hence Zizek’s quotes above.  It says that you can keep consuming as you always have if you consume in a compassionate way.  That usually involves a “one for one” program like TOMS shoes, or a donation of .50 cents to coffee growers for every cup purchased, or a 30% off coupon on a new coat if you donate an old one to Goodwill, etc.

The question is, does compassionate consumerism do enough to truly change things?  Is the difference between the haves and have-nots really just .50 cents on a cup of coffee?  Are we really one pair of free shoes away from solving the injustices of the world?  Are we really just one gently used coat away from God’s shalom?  Of course not!  I doubt that anyone thinks we are.  Then what’s really going on?

What’s really going on is that we are buying our way out of anxiety and guilt over participating, and benefiting from, a system that benefits some while others are being chewed up and spit out.

We can’t consume our way out of a mess that is created by consumption.  Embedding the price of it’s opposite into egotist consumption may elevate guilt, and it may even help some people get some things they otherwise wouldn’t have (and that’s good), but in the end it simply maintains the status quo.

The opposite of egotist consumption is not egotist compassion

The opposite of egotist consumption is sacrificial love that shows itself in sacrificial compassion.  What is the difference between egotist compassion and sacrificial compassion?  Well, egotist compassion is compassion for the sake of self (to elevate guilt, to pitch in, to be a good person, and so on).  That’s not to say that the compassionate act isn’t helpful to some degree.  It’s simply that the overall impact of the act doesn’t put a dent in the problem, or even address the underlying, or systemic, problem at all.  Sacrificial compassion is compassion of a different sort.  If focuses on what it will take to put multiple dents in the problems and then uses the totality of resource (time, talent, treasure) to see that happen.

Jesus summed this up when he said that the greatest in his kingdom would be the servant of all.  The highest will be the lowest.  The one who wins is the one who loses.  The one who lives is the one who dies to self for the sake of the other.  That’s sacrificial compassion, which has another name: Love.