Friday, October 20, 2006

Following Jesus' Example of Influence

The longer I follow Jesus the greater my sadness becomes for the world we live in. I am sadden because so many people are unaware that there is a better way to live their lives. Pain and sin dominate their lives and they don't even know that there is a problem. They have come to believe that this is just the way life is supposed to be and they hardly give it a second thought as they seek ways to dull the pain.

Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, ask him to send out more workers for his fields” (Matthew 9:35-38; NLT).

While we may have made advances in technology since the time of Jesus the human need remains the same. People still want their lives to count for something and for their pain to mean something. The needs of people have remained the same, but they are still uncertain where to turn to for help. Casual sex, drug use, and pornography are just some indications that people are in search of some how filling the need they have in their hearts.

How should the Church(a community of Christ Followers) respond to this reality? It would seem to me that if we are truly interested in following Jesus' example then we first must develop compassion for the lost. It is my opinion that the Church I have witnessed in the United States tends to judge before we have compassion.

It is true that what the homosexual, the pornographer, and the drug user do is evil, but often their actions are the result of their search for something that will fill the need in their hearts and to heal the wounds in their spirits. Yes they are living outside of God's will, but they are also being deceived and manipulated by Satan. No matter how awful their lives may seem we need to remember that they are dying and on the road to Hell. What is even worse is that many of them don't even know let alone know where to turn for help.

The second thing we must do in order to influence these people, the way Jesus did, is to be active in their lives. In this passage we notice that Jesus took time to heal people of their sicknesses and to teach them God's truth. Quoting God's Law to people who don't accept God's authority does little good. If they don't recognize Him as having authority they certainly wrote obey His Law. The way we bring God's truth into the lives of other people is through our relationship with them. We show them that we love them and through that love relationship the influence of God's truth is able to travel.

Finally if we are going to follow Jesus' example of influence we must pray for workers. We can only do so much and influence so many people. In John 17 we notice that Jesus prayed for those people, through the centuries, who would carry on His work. We too must pray for people to go before us and come after us as we seek to bring the Good News to people. Through our prayers we make sure that God's Truth still influences people, even though we may not be directly responsible for it.

Donn Leach in What the Bible Says About Jesus wrote; “Jesus knows that many are ready to repent if only some messenger bring the good news of the kingdom to them (Matt. 9:37, 38). But more messengers are needed. God can supply more messengers if His people will pray.” Prayer is one of the most important things we can do as we seek to influence the world and thus bring about change. People are not changed by our wise words or arguments but the power of God. The power of God is best seen in our love for other people.

The first step in all of this is having compassion for the people of the world, seeing them as Jesus saw them. Jesus not only saw people’s sin, but He also saw their need. He knew that their only hope was love and truth not judgment and law. As we seek to influence the world for Jesus we have to ask ourselves the question: What am I offering people? Truth and love or law and judgment?


Christian Eye said...

Hey, Paul, awesome post, my friend. I really think you should visit a post on Imago Dei and post a link to what you've said. It sounds like the beginnings of an answer to the question she raises. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Great post. It seems like God has given everyone else the words to say what I want to and don't seem to be able to!

Keep it up, brother.

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