A young man sat in front of me with urgency in his eyes and tears streaming down his cheeks. He spoke about his gut-level desire to make a difference in the lives of children. His emotion moved me because he was a guy's kind of guy. This young man was a man's man — muscular, good-looking, and strong. He had worked in the prison system and knew hurt, abused, and hopeless children often arrived there later in their lives. Now he lived under the conviction that God wanted him to make a difference by healing the hurt in the lives of children before they became so deeply wounded.
Everywhere he looked, he saw how prevalent hurt was in children's lives. He knew first-hand what the damage became when it was fully grown: violence, alienation, isolation, depression, addiction, and incarceration. He was almost begging heaven as he spoke these words to me:
As Jesus' followers, most of us have said, prayed, moaned, and cried that last sentence in many different forms:
Lord, I want my life to make a difference in the lives of broken people!
Dear Jesus, I want to have a kingdom impact on our messed-up world!
Father, I want broken people to know that someone cares!
Please, Almighty God, I want to touch other people with grace like Jesus did!
But, where do we learn how to make this kind of difference in the lives of others?
My answer to him?
If we hope to help people as Jesus did, we must genuinely look to Jesus and ask him to show us how!
When we read Mark's story of Jesus and see the man with leprosy crying to Jesus for help (Mark 1:35-45), the Holy Spirit stirs something deep within us. If we are willing to look closely, we notice that Jesus healed the man. However, that is not what Jesus did first. Notice what Jesus did before he brought the physical healing:
A leper walked right up to Jesus, dropped to his knees, and begged Him for help.
Leper:If You want to, You can make me clean.
Jesus was powerfully moved. He reached out and actually touched the leper.
Jesus:I do want to. Be clean.
And at that very moment, the disease left him; the leper was cleansed and made whole once again (Mark 1:40-42)[ONE]
If we will look at Jesus and what he did, we notice that the Lord did far more than heal a physical problem. The Lord worked to restore this isolated man to life, fellowship, and human touch. Jesus heard him and his heart when the man approached him. The Lord's heart went out to this man in his isolation and hopelessness. Then, Jesus touched the man. And notice this vital truth: Jesus did these three things BEFORE he healed the man.
We can do that! We can listen to people. We can allow our hearts to be moved by the pain in another's life. We can find ways to touch and identify with someone in the middle of their misery. We can refuse to push people away and keep them at arm's length. We must choose to care for people as Jesus did. And, to do that, we must look at Jesus!
Jesus' healing of the man with leprosy is just one story in the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the four gospels) each tell the story of Jesus. They are full of stories as Jesus encountered people in a wide variety of life's messes. These gospels invite us to look at Jesus to see how he served, blessed, and loved others. If we are willing, the Holy Spirit will teach us how to bless others as Jesus did. As we read these gospel stories, we get to look at Jesus, see what he did, and notice how he treated the people he served.
Do you want to make a difference in the lives of others?
Do you want to help others find a way out of their hurt, brokenness, shame, and despair?
Then commit to look at Jesus and how he ministered others by looking in the gospels every day and learning to reach out to others as our Lord did!
Finding Jesus' Heart for Ministry Series: