Here are some numbers for you to chew on today.
The Barna Group did a survey asking “born-again” Christians and other Americans what they had done in the past 12 months to help those in poverty. Among the results were:
- 75 percent of born-again Christians gave material resources, not including money, directly to the poor.
- 74 percent of other Americans gave material resources, not including money, directly to the poor.
- 50 percent of born-again Christians donated time to personally serve needy people who live in the community.
- 45 percent of other Americans did the same.
Hmmm … That’s not a big difference. Regarding the statistics, David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group said,
Given the extensive comments in the Bible regarding the importance of taking care of the poor, we expected to see a larger distinction between the responses of born-again Christians and non-Christians.
This isn’t a beauty pageant — we’re not competing with those around us for “Best Do-Gooder.” But one would expect the followers of Jesus — the most compassionate man who ever walked this earth — to be a bit more radical in their compassionate deeds, a bit more out of the ordinary.
I think America is a pretty compassionate country, thanks in part to its Judeo-Christian roots. So I have to ask myself: Is my compassion just a result of my do-gooder culture? Or is my compassion a radical outpouring of following Jesus, knowing him, and becoming like him?
What matters isn’t how I measure up to the average American around me, but whether I’m seeking Christ and following his example, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7).
What do you think? Are you culturally compassionate? Is your compassion an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life as you follow Jesus?