12 December 2013
Empathy and sympathy
I’ve been writing for a while now about how we need to be supporting the development of empathy in Christian community, not simple sympathy. I think sometimes, for instance, that when it looks like Jesus is pointing to something inexplicable in a parable, it is because our sympathy is being ignited in the story he tells, rather than our empathy. God acts out of empathy — and we don’t understand that.
Why do the workers who work only at the end of the day get paid the same amount as the group who worked the whole day (Matthew 20)? I would argue that God’s empathy is being demonstrated, and we don’t “get” that.
I haven’t always been able to explain the distinction easily. Here’s a lovely little animation that gets at at least some of it.
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