During Covid, Christians let the newspapers define compassion. We cared for those vulnerable to Covid-19 but often neglected people who suffered under tyrannical health orders. It’s time for us to tune back into God’s heart and extend compassion to all who need it.
Christians are called to be salt and light wherever God puts us. In the post-Christian West, our challenge is to fulfil this calling in a culture that is quickly drifting away from its Christian moorings.
In a recent article, we considered how the church is going in the face of this enormous challenge. When confronted by conscience issues during Covid, Christians could have shown much better leadership.
But how did we do when it came to compassion?
Don’t Kill Grandma
In many ways, compassion drove the Covid conversation from the word go. If the last two years were ever turned into a computer game, the main objective as we navigate our way through the different levels would be not killing the proverbial grandma.
Like conscience, compassion is another great value that Christianity gave to Western culture. When Jesus walked the earth, he could have spent time with anyone, but who did he choose to befriend? Women, fisherman, lepers, prostitutes, children — those of lowly rank in the first century world. And then he chose us: the foolish, the weak, and the despised (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
Praise God that in our concern for the marginalised, societies like Australia’s still reflect some of these godly, biblical values. During Covid, we were right to focus on protecting the vulnerable.
Who Defines Compassion?
The problem during Covid wasn’t our compassion. The problem was who defined compassion. Notice that from the start, we were only supposed to have compassion on a narrow set of people — those at high risk of Covid-19. All other vulnerable people seemed to be cast aside.
When we began locking down in early 2020, you were a bad guy if you raised the alarm about isolation for people with mental health problems, domestic violence and child abuse, missed cancer screenings and other check-ups, lost education for kids, the cost for small businesses, and how stopping the economy would affect supply chains and people in the developing world.
We now know that the cost was enormous. A lot of the cost is still to be counted — including the trillion dollars of debt we are in. But looking at lockdowns alone, significant studies have concluded that, once everything is accounted for, lockdowns were far more costly than they were beneficial.
Tuning Back Into to God’s Heart
Compassion wasn’t the problem: how our politicians and journalists defined compassion was. So many people deserved compassion but didn’t get any.
Those trapped interstate for the death or funeral of a loved one. Couples that cancelled one, two, or three weddings. Single mums trying to work while homeschooling their kids — and only allowed outside the apartment for an hour a day. The elderly whose only spiritual consolation was their church community.
Breadwinners who suffered a vaccine injury and are still forced to take a second dose. Those who lost their career, mortgage and friends over a vaccine — because they couldn’t remember another time in history when all the big institutions colluded to create a two-tiered society and had good intentions. Good point: has that ever happened?
If God has compassion on people like this, certainly we should too. Moving forward, I believe God’s word to us is this: don’t let others define compassion for you. We must listen to his heart, look at the bigger picture, and extend care to everyone who needs it.
Originally published at the Daily Declaration.