'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
Not too many years ago the English language was graced with a brand new word. (No, the title above is not an expletive, profanity, or the taking of an aspect of God's nature in vain...). That word is "EMPATHY". As for its origination or linguistic beginnings, this seems to be hazy - but it was probably born from the womb of necessity. And, when we understand, it must have been God's doing, for it fills in a blank in comprehending more fully how incredibly awesome, and wonderful God is!
The English Dictoinary has: "...the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another"
In a world of abstract detachments, and arms-length relationships, this word is strange indeed! Although used in psychological circles and applied to abstract art, and even between humans beings, the spiritual ramifications of this word can help us to appreciate and understand more deeply the love of God, and the enormity of Jesus sacrafice for the world (John 3:16). God is a being of empathy to the ultimate, even by the dictionary definition. In fact ONLY God and Jesus Christ CAN have empathy in it purist sense. However, truly yielded Christians have been given the capacity for an empathy that passes all human comprehansion and understanding. It is possible to a greater or lesser degree for all humans to have a degree of "empathy", but until they receive the the empathy of God it is very weak by comparison, and certainly not "holy". At best, the world has at times and occasions, had a "sympathy", and although similiar to empathy, it is not the same! When it comes to "empaphy" imputed by the Holy Spirit, there is a spiritual "entering into" deminsion that cannot be given or received by others.
When we are hurting, someone close to us can empathize to a degree. However, usually this is more of a desire to identify with our condition, than the desire to actually experience what we are experiencing. In this case, we would usually call it "sympathy". Sometimes we have the deep desire - if we could - to actually take the place of the other, and "trade places" with the other. This a kind of "empaphy" on a natural level. All of faculties and abilities emotionally, mentally, and even physically are designed by our Creator so as to help us "see", through "a glass darkly" until the true reality comes, as we are created more and more in the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) When the Holy Spirit dwells in us He empathizes with us so deeply and intimately that our spirit is one with Him. He knows what we know, feels what we feel, whether it our hopes, our joys, our successes, our failures in utter and complete intimacy that fulfills the definition of the word EMPATHY to the uttermost! He experiences all, and knows all OF US - not only ABOUT us. He literally dwells in us so that we may dwell and live in Christ and Christ lives in us (John 17:21). He is the Spirit of Empathy. This is Holy Empathy!
In this way God is able to ENTER INTO our very being. In doing so, He is able TOTALLY IDENTIFY with our very being. How can this be? Because in the cross He experienced - not just vicariously, but literally every pain from the sin of the whole world. Therefore, there is no experience, no thought, no trouble or pain or mistake or failure that HE HAS NOT ALREADY LITERALLY EXPERIENCED ON THAT CROSS. Jesus as God in the flesh, the Son of man, as well as the Son of God entered into a "holy empathy" with the world - and for you and for me. He can now empathize as no other can, because now the Source of all Empathy can LIVE IN us and we in Him! (Hebrews 4:15-16)
It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to truly experience real empathy with others. In some ways, the lack of genuine spirit induced and empowered empathy between God's children is a sadness indeed. In so doing, we saden and grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30).
There is an intriging statement by God in the Old Testament that is worth meditating upon by all of us: "And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the LORD spake often ONE TO ANOTHER: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (Malachi 3:15-18) If the relationship of these is such that the speak often to each other, and God takes special notice, as the Spirit of Empathy operates in their lives, so that He may give them a distinguished reward, surely they were exercising holy empathy with one another. The Holy Spirit is that Personage of God that manifests the spirit of tenderness, sensitivity, and gentleness with the children of God...He is the Spirit of Empathy. He is Holy Empathy!
I pray that you will allow the Spirit of Empathy to fill you with "Holy Empathy" - now...and forever!
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And GRIEVE not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" - Ephesians 4:29-32
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