We are now on the last lap of our journey of growing up. Obviously, it is a journey that we’re on for a lifetime…but these have been some guidelines on the journey. Frankly, I have grown as I have written this series and thought through the things that have helped me grow. I’m guessing I’ll think of a few more items after the series ends!
Over the next few days, I plan to spend some time on a final area that needs to be touched on as part of growing up. It is in the general area of mission…or some would say evangelism…except it is a bit broader than that. It certainly includes evangelism, but there is much more to it. Another term would be mercy ministry. That might be preferable…as long as it doesn’t come from a place that is at all patronizing.
The story of Jesus and the Immoral Samaritan Woman at the Well
When we look at the ministry of Jesus, his attitude toward the broken, the poor, the disenfranchised was anything but patronizing. Look at John 4 and the Samaritan woman at the well for one example. Their conversation was certainly pointed and blunt, but He was respectful to her as a person, unlike many Jews of the days would have been.
She didn’t “measure up” on many levels, from their perspective! She was a Samaritan, a half-breed! She wasn’t theologically pure. She was also an immoral woman, living with someone not her husband. Jesus pointed it out, but in a way that was a question, not with an accusing finger.
She knew this man was different. He was not your average Jewish religious leader for sure! So she not only listened to what He had to say, she called all her friends to come hear Him. When I was re-reading this today, I noticed that He stayed there for 2 more days! I didn’t remember that part of the story. WOW!
How do you know you are growing up?
So, how do we know we are growing up? One way we can know is we start paying attention to the needs of people around us rather than our own needs. If we are in church, are we focused on our own agenda, what we like or don’t like about what is happening there? Or are we looking at those around us?
Are we watching for those who seem uncomfortable and alone?
Are we trying to find a way to help them and at least make them feel welcome and comfortable?
Are we comforting those who are sad and weary?
I have found when others are more of my focus, I am less dissatisfied if there are problems at the actual service at church. I’ve been busy focusing on others and their comfort and needs. I don’t have time to focus on the flaws. Obviously, there may be long-standing problems that keep blasting you in the face. That is a topic for a different place. It is a valid topic, just not within the realm of today’s discussion.
Pay attention to the needs of those around you. What do they need?
So start looking around you and see how others are doing. …in your home, your neighborhood, your church, your community, your school, your workplace? How are they managing? Pay attention.
Learn to look at the people around you with respect. They are made in GOD’s image. They are human beings. What is happening beneath the surface of their smiles and polite answers of “Everything is fine.”?
As a Christian, you show that you are different by treating people as humans, not things. It will be surprising to observe how this affects your relationships with people!
Have you learned to look around you at the people nearby? Do you see them as beneath you or as people made in GOD’s image? Reflect on Philippians 2:3-11.