And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. - Matt. 9:35,36 (ESV)
Recently I was reading the above passage in a time I had set aside to be with God. I have read this passage so many times before, but in this particular reading the Holy Spirit showed me something that I have never thought about before and it has revolutionized the way I do ministry.
During Jesus’ ministry he was embodying (among many other things) the compassion that God has for humanity. He was meeting physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. In the context of this passage he has been healing many people and in the parallel passage in Mark 6:34 we see he is also teaching and feeding the people. But the crazy thing that stood out to me this time is that Jesus felt and acted upon compassion for these people even though he knew many of these people would reject Him. Jesus knew that some of these who were amazed by his miracles, listening to his teaching, and eating of the meal he had miraculously provided would later be shouting “crucify him”. And despite knowing this, He still consistently--persistently--showed them compassion. Even while knowing this Jesus still healed, taught, fed, and loved them. Wow.
As I was meditating on this, I realized that I have failed to imitate Christ in this area. We like to express compassion on individuals based on an expected outcome. Many times we cease to express compassion because we do not get the outcome we were hoping for. Could it be that we are to show God’s compassion to the world even if we do not get the response or outcome we were hoping for? Could it be that we are to be building relationships to persistently shine the light of Christ even if individuals reject him?
Jesus knew that some of these who were amazed by his miracles, listening to his teaching, and eating of the meal he had miraculously provided would later be shouting “crucify him”.
Maybe we should be devoted to building up the communities around us even if we are not getting as many converts as we like. In thinking about this I was reminded that I build and pour into relationships with those I am called to not so I can just convert them. I build relationships and shine the light of Christ because that is what God has called me to…it is my purpose. And in expressing my purpose, I glorify God. As I glorify God by doing what he asks me to do…others join in.
I encourage you, have persistent compassion like Jesus…Knowing that some will accept Christ and some will reject. But also realize that you are expressing your purpose by doing what God asks no matter the outcome.
Think about it, Talk about it, Live it.