People Who Need People
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Strange but true, the words of the 1964 Barbara Streisand hit, “People,” were wafting through my mind this past week.
Now I’m not a huge lover of Babs, but I do appreciate the way she infuses her songs with such emotion. You can’t listen without feeling what she’s singing—she’s that good in connecting with others through song.
As I was thinking about the “people who need people” message, my mind was drawn to Scripture and how the Gospel is really about people in fellowship with their Creator and others. People need God, and we also need ... people!
No greater example of a person who needed people—and was someone other people desperately needed—is Jesus. As I flipped through the pages of Matthew to refresh myseIf on how Jesus purposefully sought to connect with people, I was reminded of how our Savior’s ministry was always focused on doing the will of the Father while reaching others ...
Jesus went in search of people. The Son of Man came to earth to connect with people. And, as in the case of Peter’s sick mother or the ruler whose daughter died, he went into their homes and then healed them. It all started with the calling of the first disciples in Matthew 4. He went to where they were, identified them and one-by-one invited them to follow him.
Jesus always shared Truth. Jesus didn’t mess around. The time he spent with others was meaningful. His words were substantive and reached into people’s lives to comfort and convict. Like the crowds in Matthew 7, people were always riveted and some (maybe not the Pharisees) wanted more. Everyone who took his words to heart was changed.
Jesus knew his audience. If you know Jesus, then you know he spoke in parables when teaching crowds. As with the stories of the mustard seed or the workers in the vineyard, Jesus knew the crowds needed something a little simpler at first which would effectively illustrate Truth. Since we’re all at different stages in our spiritual growth, it’s important to meet people where they are on their faith journeys as well, as we share from the Word.
Jesus made himself available. I’m sure Jesus got tired of being around people, just like we do from time to time. Ministry can be very draining. But the bulk of Jesus’ ministry shows that he was often surrounded by others as he went from town to town. This was his calling. And this is our example to follow as God equips us—and empowers us by the Holy Spirit—to do his will.
Jesus established a support system. Jesus didn’t have 1,000 disciples; he only had 12. And likewise we need a close network of people who we can regularly be in touch with for prayer and support. Jesus also saved his most intimate, revealing conversations for the disciples. And then he invited them to join his personal ministry as he delegated responsibility in reaching others. The feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14 is a great example of this; Jesus gave bread to the disciples, and they were then called to give it to others.
Jesus had alone time but was still available. Sometimes we can go overboard in being available to others. We need some quiet time to recharge and be with the Father. Jesus was no different. He may have gone away for a solitary moment from time to time, but his whereabouts were still known (by the disciples, as well as sometimes the crowds) in case he was needed.
Jesus reached out even in his darkest hour. While in agony and hanging on the cross, Jesus was between two thieves. Matthew 27 notes this, but Luke shares even further how Jesus (Luke 23:41-42) forgave one of these men who asked him to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus responded. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” What a wonderful example of our Savior, understanding and experiencing the pain of separation from God, yet still reaching out, comforting, and bringing people to the Father!
Yes, Jesus is a tough act for any of us to follow. But following his example doesn’t mean we have to be perfect as Jesus was. It just means we have to try ... being people who need people.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
John 1:14 says that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” How are others seeing this “glory of the One and Only” in you today as you dwell among them?