“That’s disgusting!!” This can be a common reaction when we see, hear or experience stuff that’s not in our regular grid or comfort zone. So when I posted some videos from Cambodia where we ate dried frogs, grasshoppers, grubs and beetles, I had lots of feedback about how gross it was that I’d eat “that kind of stuff.”
I’ve also recently had to wrestle with and navigate my own reactions of appall and shock having walked through a city in Thailand, almost entirely devoted to sex tourism. The reason I’m doing this is to look at the possibility for opening Nightcare here with Saving Moses. Nightcare is our way of expressing genuine love for the babies and toddlers of sexworkers, caring for these precious treasures while their moms work. You can read more about this on the Saving Moses website – totally love our nightcare work!
So having walked through very large areas devoted to sex work in this city, I found myself struggling with the disgust factor, at least initially. But I also find myself feeling lots of compassion as well, so I’m wrestling with these seeming disparities. And as I type this blog, it’s helping me to think about Jesus and if He had any disgust factor as He walked in human existence.
As I ponder Jesus, I remember His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, who had 5 husbands and she was with a different guy at the time of that conversation. I’m reminded about Jesus talking with the woman caught in adultery and His response to her accusers, along with His final words about not condemning her and tell her to be free and stop sinning. I’m reminded of Jesus’ faithfulness to Peter, despite Peter’s frail humanity and denial failure at the time of Jesus’ trial. And I think about Jesus leaving applause and human adulation to meet the naked lunatic, oppressed and tormented by demons. That guy was super crazy and probably disgusting to the townspeople near the graveyard where he lived.
I’m bringing up these people with whom Jesus engaged because they demonstrate to me that Jesus’ compassion factor is far more weighty and compelling than the disgust factor. And because I’m a Jesus junkie, I want to be more motivated by compassion and genuine love rather than disgust and revulsion. So how could this happen?
For starters, I think it’s helpful to pay attention to our reactions, how we feel and what are we thinking. Once we have a sense of our thoughts and feelings, then I think we can bring these to Jesus and ask for help. Additionally, I think it’s extremely important to take some time to sit in Jesus’ love for us. Maybe we struggle to be loving and compassionate because we don’t have experience or knowledge of being genuinely loved by Jesus. Or maybe our awareness of Jesus’ love for us is kind of stale or a perfunctory and distant memory. Maybe if we rest in Jesus loving us, maybe we’ll find it easier and more natural to love others and overcome the disgust factor with compassion and care. Let’s both enjoy and express genuine love!