How can I engage with others?
Matthew 8:1-17 New International Version (NIV)
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
John 9:1-7 (NIV)
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
By Steve Kowbel, Director of Worship Ministry
As I read through these gospel passages several things leap out at me about Jesus and his ability to engage with others.
In Matthew, it’s quite clear that Jesus was not taking time to persuade or convert people from their belief system to change them to believe what He had to say. All of the people He engaged with were coming to Him believing that He had to offer something greater than themselves or the situations that they were in.
I love seeing that the prophecy spoken by Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases” was fulfilled through engaging action. Engaging with others is an active awareness of those who are around you and the ability to assess what their real needs are.
Look at the action phrases found that describe what Jesus did in both of these passages:
He reached out
I will go
Jesus challenged accepted assumptions, took time for meaningful conversations and pursued direct contact with people who were on his path in life. I believe engaging with others can be as simple as having an awareness of the people who are around us, and being willing to pursue meaningful conversations with those who are open. Let’s not get distracted with convincing people who are militantly against the cross and Jesus Christ about what we believe.
How many people do we pass by daily who are open to the truth that Jesus has to offer, open to something greater than themselves and the situation that they are in. Do we need to be right or engaging?