To empathize means to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. To try to understand their perspective and what life is like for them. This is not easy to do, because we sadly tend to see everything and everyone in relation to ourselves, and how everything and everyone meets our own needs.
Really, God is to be at the center, and we're to be in the periphery alongside others. This includes those who know the grace of God in Jesus, and those who do not. It even includes our enemies. We need to listen and try to understand where the other person is coming from. We need to try to hear what they might really be saying behind the words they actually are saying. Or maybe even in their silence.
Jesus is the Empathizer par excellence. He became one of us, fully human, though God- yes, fully and completely human. He lived among us in relative silence for nearly thirty years. Surely part of that was coming to understand both first and second-hand, life here on earth as a human. All the ways that people clamor and grope for real life. What it is like to live as a human in a fallen, broken world. And to do so in relational terms.
Then for around three years he called those in Israel to a new kingdom, not from this world, but invading this world in him, the kingdom of God. And he called them to a follow him, but only in accordance with this kindgom come, and the new covenant coming with it. But even in the midst of this we find over and over again many acts and words from Jesus which show his clear empathy with others. But always in line with the will of his Father. Anything out of line was considered an enemy, considered even Satan himself.
This is the way we need to take, in Jesus. It's a way of utter empathy in listening to others. Seeking to hear what even the most rebellious are saying. Then it's the way of extending a heart and hand of healing in Jesus' name, by sharing ourselves, our love, and seeking to fellowship and enjoy their company. And in that, sharing the love of God to them in Jesus, and something of the reality of this kingdom of God come in him. To point all to the new covenant in Jesus which brings in the beginning of the new creation in him, even here and now.
I need to ever empathize with others. I do that by embracing the pain that's in my own heart and life. Bringing that to God. Seeking at all times to have God at the center of my life and existence, not myself. And seeking to help others on the periphery find this same God, in Jesus.
What might you like to add about empathizing with others?