In a moment that may go down in history, one of the republican movements best hopes for US president in lets say 20-30 years time unmasked two lies in one action. The first lie is that all conservatives do not have compassion. To be quite honest, although I might be seen by some as a hopeless liberal just because I live on this side of the pond, I would probably not have acted in the way Josh did. A thousand reasons why I shouldnt help this man who had clearly just lied about his need for petrol would have been going through my mind. After all as Josh himself had said earlier in the post why should he reward dishonesty?
But Joshua Claybourn explains what happened
“I look at the one dollar bill, and then into his eyes. I can see a flood of emotions there, and in my own mind I decide it’s probably likely that he’s lying to me. After all, I don’t see his car or wife anywhere around. Still, I hand him the dollar and embrace him. That’s right, I hug him. I say to myself that if he wants this dollar he’ll have to hug me for it. He seems surprised, but gladly takes the dollar and we part ways.
I go into the store and get my thank you cards I came to purchase. As I exit, I see the man still lingering, sort of sitting down on his heels in the parking lot. But he’s lingering near my car and now I’m not annoyed; instead I’m frightened. Isn’t this the sort of setup typical for a robbery or even something worse? I trudge on to my car and approach him directly. Once he notices me he slowly rises to his feet. Then I stop dead in my tracks. He’s crying! What on earth is he crying for? I’m cautious, and slowly walk forward. Then he hands me the dollar bill and walks away. Just like that, he’s gone.”
Compassion can have a convicting result. It can arrest the most committed sinner and demonstrate that love exists. I am reminded of a friend of mine who hugged someone in a church once who was then told it had been years since it had happened. Josh’s story challenges us to reach out to the unlovely and as he is in the habit of doing at least smiling at them. To reach out and hug, now that is an action worthy of a Christian.
The story is a wonderful example of unconditional grace. Josh acted in just the way Jesus did in giving of himself to save the unworthy, although clearly not to the same degree.
I am reminded of how once when doing Sunday School, I chose the child was was misbehaving most, brought him to the front and gave him a chocolate and told him he could eat it. The other kids were in uproar in true elder brother fashion with the refrain ‘Thats totally not fair’ being the response from one very well behaved child. The amazing thing was the transformation in the child so singled out. He had been messing around with the coin his mother had given him for the collection and had declined to put add it to the offering when it had come round. Without a word, the child got up went to the front and put his coin in the collection, and behaved impecably for the rest of the morning!
Of course grace doesnt always have the desired response. I remember being intensely irritated once when I gave a man a salt beef bagel instead of money and he fed it to his dog (who incidently looked very well fed!)
Our challenge as Christs representatives on earth is to know when to show the compassion and when the justice of God.