I've been reading a book titled "Organic Church" by Neil Cole. It's a great book full of many great truths.
This morning, I noticed some of Neil's insights swirling around my head. In Chapter 10 of the book, Neil explains how what is often translated in the scriptures (NT) as "felt compassion" literally means "bowels".
I got to thinking about this and recalling my own response to situations throughout life. We Americans tend to refer to the heart as being the seat of emotion, but much of the ancient world, and some of the current world sees other parts of the body - such as the liver, or in this case, the bowels - as the center of their being. In some cultures, the believers refer to Christ living in their liver!
When I was young, if I knew I was in big trouble, or really stressed, or worried, or upset, or even infatuated with a cute little lady - it almost always resulted in butterflies, sour stomach, indigestion and often - a trip to the restroom! I don't think I am alone in this ;-).
Our guts really are a strong part in our response to emotions, are they not? Sure, some would call this IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and explain it medically. Fine - in fact, I think that would be a very biblical way to put it. Biblically, compassion means having IBS because of others!
So Jesus had that same inward pain and discomfort in his guts over the lost sheep of the world, that we have/had when we encounter difficult situations. To me, that's much more intense than "feeling compassion"! I cannot honestly remember the last time that observing or relating to a lost person sent me doubling over or off to the men's room!
Yet, for Jesus, this was and is the usual response to those whom he loves and died for. I know that in me, that is in my self, I don't have possess this level of compassion for people. Naturally, I am concerned about me and my own. However, Jesus lives in me, and I in him. Therefore, as I seek him, he can live his compassionate life in and through me. By God's grace, maybe my bowels - and maybe all of our bowels will be moved with what moves the bowels of Jesus.