I usually go to the gast station to get gas. Sometimes if I’m feeling dangerous, I also get a bag of Fritos. For whatever reason, I tend to frequent the same gas station more than others. During my trips, I started to notice the awkward atmoshphere of a gas station. I don’t know why, but most people seem more annoyed at gas stations than say at the grocery store, or in line at a fast-food restaurant. I met a man there a few weeks ago who was running from car to car, asking if he could pump people’s gas or wash their windows for a few bucks. Sadly, most of the people just shoed him away, like he was a fly and he was bothering them.
As I watched this, I was reminded of a story in the gospel of Mark where Jesus unleashes compassion. In Mark 5, a demon possessed man walks over to Jesus as he is stepping out of his speed boat. The man is described as being strong, probably naked, and I’m guessing a bit frightening to the kiddies in the neighborhood. The man is full of demons and when Jesus asks him what his name is, he replies “Legion, for we are many.” This doesn’t even phase Jesus. He decides to send these demons into the non-kosher animals herding nearby. Suddenly, this legion of demons is thrust out of this man into a herd of two thousand pigs, who fall into the nearby lake and drown. Jesus then looks at the pigs and smiles and says “That’ ll do pig.” Okay, he doesn’t really say that.
The owners of the pigs get a little miffed at Jesus, I mean, how inconsiderate to kill all those pigs at the expense of this crazed, demon possessed man. The text then says they were afraid and pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.I guess Jesus listens becasue he gets into his boat and tells this newly healed man to go and share how the Lord has shown him mercy. The man’s testimony grew and people were amazed (Mark 5:20). This story causes me to pause.I wonder what people were thinking when Jesus stopped his boat and got out. There was a crazed, demon possesed man, probably naked, I imagine yelling expletives, and throwing rocks.He could have easily just stayed in the boat and kept going downstream. But he doesn’t. He stops and gets out of the boat. Jesus practices reckless compassion. His compassion isn’t cointingent on time or circumstance; where Jesus is, compassion exists.
I wonder how often we neglect to share the love and compassion of Christ because it is easier to just ignore people. As Robert, the man at the gas station, approached me I didn’t do anything heroic. I didn’t write him a check for a hundred dollars. I didn’t tell him he could stay in my guest bedroom. But I didn’t ignore him. The small amount of money I gave him, didn’t amount to the expereince we shared talking for a few minutes in a place where no one wants to be bothered. If we are called to be like Chirst, we are called to reckless compassion.