Compassion Without Genesis 1:1

Originally posted at:


by the Rev. Tad de Bordenave

We move now to the point in the story where the Good Samaritan stops and administers compassion to the man in the ditch. This man Jesus describes as “beaten, stripped, and dying.” We will transpose him to today’s world and examine compassion from two different perspectives. One shows biblical persepective while the other does not. The biblical worldview comes succinctly at Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Those few words carry the fundamental tenants of the Judeo-Christian worldview.  We will look at compassion through this lens the article next week.

This article will examine compassion in a culture that rejects biblical assumptions. This profile should be recognizable because of its strong influence all around. As we see the marks of this society, we will understand the compassion that emerges.

The Promises of life without Genesis 1:1

The possibilities for a fulfilled life lie within reach of all by the removal of God as maker of the world.  No more is God is looking over our shoulders with his moral checklist. With those statutes vacated, new pathways for our full potential open up. We live with an optimism that looks into the future as having come of age. We blossom with boundless space for our freedoms and our promises.

We now live in full possession of the territory that had been God’s. We occupy that territory and exercise the freedom to do with it as we wish.  That includes all moral attitudes and behavior. With the confidence of our innate abilities, we proceed with our new creation:

Our Identity: Our humanness is not dependent on a higher power. Our individuality does not come from the mind of a creator but by our own initiative.
Our future: We choose what we value and we go where we want.
Our Guilt: Why be burdened by feelings from wrong behavior? Besides, who says that behavior is wrong?
Our Gender: We need not accept the gender-anatomy we were born with. What if our natural inclination is with the other sex? We may move to make that correction.
Our morals: We will set our own, and they will originate from our own consciences.

There are voices that remind us of our spiritual side. We are not religious, they tell us, but we are spiritual. There are clergy, counsellors, self-ordained oracles who speak as prophets to us. They take seriously their self-imposed role as chaplains to our culture and pronounce affirmation for whatever the current behavior may be. They do not speak prophetic words of God to the culture, but they provide the culture with God’s approval to make us feel good.

These spiritual physicians bring diagnoses of disfunction, anger, rejection, guilt, and low self-esteem. Their treatment brings the powers of listening, group support, and other ways to lance our boils. Prominent in their treatment is reassurance – undergirdings for whatever moral or social action we pursue. Always the goal is that we feel good about ourselves.

And its compassion

Extending kindness to the man in the ditch means removing the scales from his eyes. How can we assist him to find release from obligations that are imagined or artificial? Let him be in touch with his hopes and dreams as we encourage his pursuit of them. He has rights, and he must reach for them. Those fears that lurk below the surface must be defeated. Let him discern the deterrents blocking the way of fulfillment so he can pursue his own happiness.

All of that represents the best of life and is the best we can offer the stricken man in the ditch.

The Problems of life without Genesis 1:1

Yes, there are promises peculiar to life apart from Genesis 1:1, but so will there be evils. With the deliberate exclusion of biblical principles, some of the losses will be grave.

Life without a Creator:  This leaves no answer to the question of the source of existence, where we came from. There is no divine person connected to us, no notion that the creator might be known as Lord or Father or Emmanuel. We are alone in the universe.
A universe without purpose: That makes us an accident. If life does have a purpose, how can we find it?  If that search is fruitless, then it is left to each individual to exercise the right for choices. All that remains is to strive for whatever brings their own satisfaction.
Facts but no Truth.  Yes, there are truths but yours and mine may differ. Neither of us has the right to refute the other’s. We are swimming in disconnected bodies of water.
Not sure what to live for:  In place of values we have pleasures. Near the top would be sex, food, shopping, sports, and travel, and whatever else brings such measures of happiness. And we expect our pleasure to be served up promptly.

These problems vandalize those promises. We live in a world with a dispirited humanness, loneliness, moral chaos, fragile egos always needing more affirmation. The world kindly supplies sinister ways to cover the freakish side of our excessive individualism. It disparages courage and consumes all that is good, worthy, pure, and honorable.

The ways of God’s healings have been excluded. Where there is hope and help, there is silence.

Silence about divine forgiveness;
Silence on loving enemies, the benefits of sacrifice, the power of prayer;
Silence touching the light burden of following Jesus Christ;
Silence on the power of repentance and confession;
Silence on the promise of eternal hope and resurrection.;
Silence on God’s direction coming through the Bible.

Compassion revisited:

We return to compassion and how these problems affect it. Those arriving from this world bring good will and sympathy for the man in the ditch, but the deficit of kindness leaves his condition untouched.

For the man in the ditch looking up, what can he expect to receive?  What are the signs of compassion from the visitor from this world? What does this world leave him?

Beaten:      Betrayal and abandonment by those pursuing their own happiness;
Stripped:    An identity of no value, a dignity with no benefit;
Dying:        Listened to, affirmed, bolstered, with sympathy, but… Full stop.

Painting: the Parable of the blind leading the Blind, Peter Bruegel

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