Truly Outrageous Compassion

So…we got Netflix. Well, actually we got Netflix and HuluPlus. Well, we got rid of cable in order to cut back on our budget and got these two addicting services instead.

On the plus side we’ve been able to introduce our kiddos to some shows we watched back in the day (okay, for me back in the day pretty much means from the 80’s all the way up until just recently…I’m still the kind of person that likes to watch Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of cereal even though they don’t have Saturday morning cartoons like they used to in the 80’s…but I digress). One show in particular that my 6 year-old daughter is just loving is Jem.

Yep. Jem and the Holograms.

She’s smitten. She loves the music. She loves the suspense. She loves the story telling. She thinks it’s down right awesome (even though Pizzazz, the lead singer to the rival rock group Misfits, looks like Dee Snyder form his days with Twisted sister). Ever since she’s seen the first episode, she’s been pretending to go around the house singing and pretending to be Jem.

Jem is an 80’s cartoon show put out by the same people who did GI Joe and Transformers (yep, it’s actually associated with Marvel of all things). Jem is the alter ego of Jerrica Benton, the owner of Starlight Music. Jerrica uses a computer program called Synergy (created by her father) to project holograms. Using Synergy, Jerrica projects the holographic image of Jem in order to…well…that part I’m a bit fuzzy on. Basically she’s the lead singer of a band and needs to hide her secret identity (kinda like Hannah Montana but in a good way and not with all the twerking later on). But there’s more to it than that and their crazy adventures.

Jerrica/Jem is joined (sans hologram hidden) by her younger sister and two foster sisters. It’s actually a very caring, multi-ethnic family brought together out of compassion. And in response to the compassion they were given growing up they found Starlight House–a group home for endangered and runaway girls. In fact, a number of plot lines throughout the series deal with Jerrica/Jem and the band trying to raise money for various girls in the home, for Starlight House itself, or even other important causes.

One of the lines from the theme song of the show is that Jem is “truly outrageous.” My wife and I spent this morning trying to explain to our daughter that the word “outrageous” has a different meaning today than it did in the 80’s (totally). She was a bit confused. She wondered out loud if it meant something really amazing and awesome. Yes, yes it did back then. Today though, it has a different connotation of something more out of control or outside the accepted norm (such as the outrageous anger of protesters, etc.).

Jem Jerrica Benton

Jem changing back to Jerrica Benton from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jem_(TV_series)

To be honest though, I think Jem’s definition of Outrageous (and my daughter’s) really does explain and define the generosity of Jerrica/Jem and the Holograms. They were shown compassion and care when they were young. And in response to this compassion and care, they in turn show it to others as well. Because they had been given, so they give.

I’ve been reading through the book of Deuteronomy lately. It’s the last of the first five books of the Bible usually called the Torah or the Law. It’s usually skipped over by a lot of people because it’s just a retelling of all that just happened (kinda like those “last time on Jem and the Hologram” moments you see at the beginning of each episode). But it’s more than that. The people of Israel that had left Egypt had all died out. A new generation had come up and now were about to enter into the Promised Land.

Moses stands at the cusp of the Promised Land and remembers with them what God has done for them and promises to do. He also instructs them how to live in such a way that they honor God and show that they belong to Him.

What’s interesting is that a number of times Moses tells the people to not forget the foreigners, the widows, the fatherless, and the poor. In fact, part of being the people of God is to do just that. The people are to give their tithe to Levites so that they in turn can give to those in need (see Deuteronomy 14:28-29). Moses also brings God’s word to the people telling them that there shouldn’t be any poor among them if they follow God’s Law and help provide for those in need. Yet there will be poor among them anyway. And so, those who are in need shouldn’t be cast out but instead treated fairly and with compassion (see Deuteronomy 15:1-11). Compassion and caring for others is required of all those who belong to God.

As followers of Jesus, compassion is to be our creed. Caring and loving others is to be our way of life. Yes, the Old Testament is fulfilled by Jesus but even Jesus says that He didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. In response to the compassion and sacrifice and salvation because of Jesus, we should be whole heartedly ready and willing to live for Him and serve Him.

It’s what we’re called to do. James says that we are to put our faith into action (see James 2:14-2). And Paul writes that we have been saved by grace through faith in order to do the good works God has prepared for us to do in advance (see Ephesians 2:8-10). There is a call to help those in need, to help those who are hurting, to help those who others won’t.

And that’s why I actually have no problem with my daughter watching Jem. Yes, it’s filled with bad cheesey 80’s music, not the best voice over work (though I’m pretty sure I heard Stan Lee in one episode, but I couldn’t be sure), and horrible fashion sense (well, it was the 80’s after all) at the same time there is values being taught. There is the value of compassion. There is the value of helping others not to gain something for one’s self but to do so because the other person matters.

In the end, the compassion of Jerrica/Jem truly is outrageous. It’s beyond the norm. It’s beyond what we think it would be. And the need for compassion still rings true today as it did in the 80’s and as it did when Deuteronomy was first written and when God spoke to the people of Israel through Moses.

How can your compassion be truly outrageous? To be a follower of Jesus, our compassion is to be truly outrageous. Is yours?

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