Christmas Capacity

Who classifies as “high capacity”?

I recently sat with a dynamic group of leaders to ponder this question… and the question has filled my Christmas season.

In the math classroom I scrawl the word “capacity” on the board (in my finest slanted script) with the definition: The amount that something can hold. 

In my workplaces, a high capacity person is effective and efficient. My math definition reminds that capacity is not about what is produced by a life, but what is held.

In a sermon on compassion, Pastor Craig Groeschel discloses the results of one study that says people care 40% less about other people than in the 1980’s. This should be more alarming, but as I listen, I recognize the truth of it. This week, I’ve read articles about global and local poverty and atrocities – and then returned to my life rather untouched. I recognized Craig’s societal diagnosis in my own heart.

Compassion is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself. Groeschel gives three major reasons for North America’s societal compassion leak.

  1. We are more obsessed with ourselves

Who knew selfie was not a recognized word in 2000.

  1. Overwhelming exposure to pain desensitizes us.

We are bombarded with information, news, articles and stories of suffering. It becomes commonplace.

  1. A lack of personal interaction makes it easier not to care

We read about someone’s job loss on facebook, and the lack of human connection makes it hard for genuine concern to happen.

Every life has capacity. We can hold competencies, skills, titles, characteristics and abilities – But our capacity can only hold so much.

So what are the best things to make sure we are holding?

What you hold depends on what you behold.

Behold Christ and create capacity for compassion.

Behold stress and leave no space for grace.

Behold self and squeeze the joy of generosity to the outer corner of your life.

Christ has limitless capacity for compassion. In the midst of carrying out the ministry that would recreate the world – Jesus, Most High God, was motivated to heal a man from leprosy because he was moved with compassion.

What can we assume about the biology of the baby-born Christ?

In his humanity, Jesus too only had so much capacity, and He chose the best things to hold.

He protected his brain-built ability to understand the feelings of another.

He did not behold self.

He did not become desensitized to suffering around him.

He chose to interact personally.

The original Greek word for compassion is splagchnizomai meaning, to “Have the bowels yearn.” (How is that for a word picture to describe an inner ache?) 

Jesus did not avoid feeling the inner ache of suffering.

His real compassion solicits action.

Anne Voskamp writes,

“There are so many of us sucking down lattes and dying of thirst, dying for something more, for something abundant … The way to slowly die is to believe you live in a space of scarcity and not abundance of generosity.”

Yes, What you hold depends on what you behold.

A Jesus-fixed gaze generates space for grace. It’s hard to experience any abundance if you believe you are lacking something yourself.

Your Christmas capacity is not the amount you can hold, but the extend to which you behold the abundance of Christ, first, for you.

The Christ-fixed gaze grows a Christmas capacity of abundant compassion.

That stable seed sprouts into world-shaking inner wealth – a freedom deep and available to all.

The cross is enough. Behold Christ, and feel your Christmas capacity for joy, generosity and soul satisfaction swell.

What will your Christmas capacity hold?

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