Immanuel, Empathy, & Christmas

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  
Matthew 1:23

 

Jesus.

Immanuel.

The fullness of God made skin and bones. A little baby carrying the weight of our broken world on His shoulders. Here among us, as one of us. God with us… drawn close.

Our Mighty God… Wonderful Counselor… Everlasting Father… the Prince of Peace, letting go of heaven, emptying Himself, and being found in our likeness. A baby.

To share our perspective… our suffering… our pain.

Earning our trust by being one of us, proving His mercy. For our guilt needed a sacrifice, but perhaps our shame needed a friend. A friend to meet us in the mud of our own brokenness to take our hand and lead us out.

So God came to us in that baby, as if He were saying and committing to humanity… to us, “I’m in this with you.”

Immanuel.

Jesus.

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If there was one word that described the In This With You movement, it would be the word empathy.

And perhaps if there was one word to describe the power of the Christmas story of the incarnation of God in Jesus, it would be empathy as well.

For empathy is far more than feeling bad for someone’s struggle or hurt… that is simply sympathy. You feeling bad for someone in need does not help them.

Yet, empathy is about feeling with someone in their struggle or hurt. It requires movement towards the person. Proxity. Why does that help? Watch the video below…

 

 

As Brene Brown sites Theresa Wisemen [for which the video above is drawn from], empathy has four attributes: 1) to be able to see the world as the other person sees it 2) to be nonjudgmental 3) to understand another person’s feelings and 4) to communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings.

What does this have to do with Jesus?

Well, God feeling bad for you at a distance, does not help you.

Yet, God drawn close as Jesus… helps you.

Look back to the 4 attributes of empathy and consider Jesus:

1) God with us as Jesus… seeing the world as one of us. (John 1 & Philippians 2:5-11)

2) Not with a mission of judgment, but of salvation (John 3:16-17)

3) & 4) Understanding and communicating our suffering by taking our very suffering on the cross. (Hebrews 2:14-18 & Hebrews 4:15-16)

Jesus. Immanuel. The Perfect Example of Empathy. The Perfect Savior.

“For our guilt needed a sacrifice, but perhaps our shame needed a friend to meet us in the mud of our own brokenness to take our hand and leads us out.”

Perhaps it is Jesus’ empathy and his offer of friendship that compels us to trust him and let him lead us out of the mud.

So why are Jesus and empathy the foundation of In This With You?

We have friends… loved ones in deep hurt and deep struggle surrounding situations of crisis pregnancy or past choices of abortion. Often they are isolated, hidden, hurt, and afraid.

Sympathy says “I’ll vote to make a difference for the masses and for you.”

Sympathy says “I’ll tell you at a distance via a facebook post to educate you of the choice you should make or the choice you should not have made.”

Yet, empathy draws close and tenderly says to the one in front of you, “I want to be in this with you. Can I love you? Can I be your friend in this hard situation? Can we do this together?”

Perhaps when we join people like Jesus in their mud without judgement, we will earn their trust enough that they will choose take our hand and us let love and walk with them.

Jesus, may we be like you for the sake of the people that you love that need love and help. Amen.