[forthright] Christians must have empathy

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2011 03:33:53 -0700 (PDT)
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross

Richard Mansel goes to the Bible to answer ... "The
Most Important Question." Great for classes, groups,
evangelistic studies and individuals.
http://richardmansel.com/most-important-question/


COLUMN: LIVING THE FAITH

Christians must have empathy
 by Richard Mansel, managing editor
http://tinyurl.com/6h65zob

Empathy connects us with our fellow man, allowing us to
inhabit their skin, so to speak. It is essential that
any good citizen is imbued with a vast amount of
empathy. For Christians it is absolutely essential.

Empathy is defined as, “The intellectual identification
with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings,
thoughts, or attitudes of another.”/1 The origin of the
word roughly means, “Affection to suffer.”/2

The empathetic have the ability to step out of their
world and suffer with someone else. Instead of seeing
their experiences as the standard, they can feel for
someone who has endured something they have never
encountered.

“Empathy depends not only on one’s ability to identify
someone else’s emotions but also on one’s capacity to
put oneself in the other person’s place and to
experience an appropriate emotional response.”/3

As Christians, empathy is necessary for the following:

First, evangelism requires empathy. When we approach
someone with the gospel, we must do so as we would want
to be treated. We hear ourselves as someone who is in
need of the simple message of Jesus. They are a soul
that needs love, rather than condescension and
ridicule.

Understanding their situation can allow us a special
tenderness and we will listen better. We feel their
pain and confusion and do what we can to ease their
troubled road.

Second, fellowship requires empathy. How can we “bear
one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2, NKJV), if we
cannot feel them? How can we see where our brethren are
hurting if our eyes cannot see past ourselves?

If we can only see them in light of our own experiences
and perspectives, we are a threat to judge them
(Matthew 7:1-2), rather than reaching out to their
hearts.

Third, benevolence requires empathy. Without it, we
judge and condescend, seeing everyone as a liar. While
it is true that many are lying, a lack of empathy means
we will likely never help anyone. We match up wisdom,
experience and empathy to create a powerful force in
the community.

In a way, worship requires something similar to
empathy. We need to imagine what God feels when we
worship. If we focus on him, our worship will be more
reverential and passionate. We will connect with him in
ways we have never experienced.

Is life about us? If so, empathy will always be elusive
and we will never endear ourselves to those around us.
_________ 
1/ http://tinyurl.com/ytldx2 
2/ Ibid. 
3/ http://tinyurl.com/3m67on2

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