Empowering Subjects of the King to Change the World – 10

Personal and Compassionate.

Last time we noticed that we must approach God’s mission authentically. If we ourselves have been touched by God and are being transformed by him, our outreach will be genuine and powerful. We noted several good things that would emerge from such authentic participation in God’s mission, including strong motivation (for more on motivation for the mission, see an entire series of blogs beginning here).

Another good result when workers are authentic is that we will reach out personally and compassionately. Our efforts will not be mere duty or work. Nor will we be self-centered, such as reaching out to alleviate our own guilt or obtain some kind of spiritual status. Instead, we will be other-centered.

This is what Jesus did. Though we sometimes we find him repeating words like “repent” or “follow me” on more than one occasion in his teaching, he otherwise rarely said the same thing to different people. He didn’t use “lines” on people. Instead, he viewed them as individuals and spoke to them accordingly.

Their brokenness broke his own heart and moved him to compassionate action. He wasn’t merely fulfilling a perceived responsibility to “do outreach.”

What’s more, compassion is often specifically stated as the motive in his encounters with people (Matthew 14:14; 15:32; Luke 7:13). Compassion is the motivation not only for his healing people (Mark 8:2ff.) but also his speaking to them (Mark 6:34). The reason he felt compassion for them is that  they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Their brokenness broke his own heart and moved him to compassionate action. He wasn’t merely fulfilling a perceived responsibility to “do outreach.”

Christ’s followers followed him in this as well. We sometimes focus so much on what they did that we miss this, but a careful reading shows that they had the same love and concern for people that their Lord did. One of my favorite examples is when Paul said, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Other aspects of his special relationship with the Christians at Thessalonica include caring for them like a nursing mother cares for her children, working hard day and night so as not to be a burden to them, and dealing with them as a father with his own children (vv. 7-12). Even when Paul’s relationship with a church was difficult, due to the people’s sins, Paul’s loving concern for them is evident. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!” (Galatians 4:19-20).

The examples of our Lord and of his servant Paul remind us that we are reaching out to people. I can no longer refer to other human beings as “prospects” or even “contacts.” The denotation of these words is not necessarily impersonal, but their connotation often is, especially the first one. I know I don’t want to be anybody’s prospect or contact. Such words would define me in relation to the other person and their aims, not in myself as a person. As I reach out to other people, I need to remember they won’t appreciate such designations anymore than I do.

In a day gone by, we sometimes described telling the good news as “personal evangelism.” By personal, we meant it was the responsibility and activity of each of us individually. We did not emphasize that “personal” should also be a description of the manner in which we approached others. Instead, the approach was often quite impersonal, with a focus on methods or even “lines” to use on people. Again, this is not the way of Christ. If we follow him, we will reach out personally and compassionately.

The ministry of Empowering Subjects equips believers to view and treat others like Jesus did. Taking a cue from Jesus’ example in Matthew 9:35-38, there is a whole lesson on “seeing people” (v. 36) and another on “having compassion” (v. 36). Each lesson draws out the meaning of those attitudes and behaviors and also points to where we get the power to have them. The material also gives practical applications to help us learn to actually see people and actually have compassion.

I can no longer refer to other human beings as “prospects” or even “contacts.”

As stated previously, we are not offering a method to use on people but rather a way of life with God so he can use us with people. This is more than semantics. The way we think about what we are doing will affect the way we approach it, including whether we approach people as a duty or as people.

If God merely wanted to transmit information, there are impersonal means of doing so that would be less messy and more efficient. But he chose to communicate the gospel to the world initially by means of a person (cf. Hebrews 1: 1-2) and now continues to communicate it from person to person (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We must do it with the same compassion that our Lord did. “As the father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).  

For more information on how Empowering Subjects is seeking to equip subjects of the King to reach out to others like he did, see here.

Published by Marvin Bryant

After serving as a minister for churches for forty years, Marvin founded the Empowering Subjects to equip subjects of the King to change the world like Jesus did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: