PRINCIPLE 23 | BE THE ONE TO REACH ONE
One of the things that I see over and over in the New Testament is Jesus’ focus on the one. He saw the crowds, for sure. But He focused on the individuals in the crowds. He cared for the person. He focused on the individual person, not just the masses. I think there are two incredibly positive truths in this. First, He sees you, cares about you, and loves you. You, as an individual person. He knows you by name. You matter to Him. Now that is something to celebrate and allow to build your spirit!
Secondly, He wants you to be the one who reaches the one. He wants you and me to see people, care for people, and love people, individually and personally. I think that is so important in the day we’re living in. To love others as Jesus loves us. To care for others as Jesus cares for us. Again, He wants us to be THE ONE who sees and loves and cares for THE ONE.
I think of several stories right away from the New Testament. You remember these Bible encounters; they’re powerful when you stop and think about them.
- Notice how Jesus cared about the person, not politics. In Luke 7:36-50 we see a story about a woman washing Jesus’ feet. She was a woman with a shady reputation. The religious elite of His day encouraged Jesus to have nothing to do with her. She didn’t fit their paradigm or politics, if you will. But Jesus saw her heart. Jesus recognized her desire to change and become a new person. He cared for her and love her as she was, but also loved her too much to leave here there. He wanted to help her change.
- Notice how Jesus cared about the person, not opinion. In Luke 8:43-48 we see a story about a woman with a blood disease. She was an outcast and forbidden to enter the city. She was forgotten, hopeless, and destitute. She had no hope. She wanted to get close to Jesus, and she did. She pressed through the crowd and touched His clothing. Jesus immediately recognized the one in the middle of the many. Jesus did not think she was a nobody…because everybody is a somebody to Jesus. He saw her heart. He recognized her faith. And He healed her body.
- Notice how Jesus cared about the person, not sin. In John 8:3-11 we see the story about the woman caught in the act of adultery. It’s not that sin doesn’t matter to Jesus, it’s just that your sin does not disqualify you from receiving the grace of Jesus. He saw her. He loved her. He cared for her. He felt her pain and disrespect and devalue. He wanted to comfort her and respect her and value her. He forgave her and gave her a brand new future. That is what Jesus did, and that is what Jesus does.
- Notice how Jesus cared about the person, not judgment. In Luke 15:11-32 we see the story about the prodigal son. Most people would judge the lad and say he deserved his destruction. He took his inheritance from his generous father and blew it all on wild living. Now he comes home begging because he has nothing and has lost everything. But this parable is actually less about the son and more about the father. This father saw him from a distance, ran to him, hugged him, kissed his neck, and placed a purple robe and special ring on him. Fathers in that culture did not do that type of thing. They were reserved. Jesus told this parable to show the heart of the Father, God. He loves us. He cares for us. And when we blow it He does not give up on us.
- Notice how Jesus cared about the person, not crowds. In Luke 15:1-7 we see the story about the 100 sheep. 99 are safe in the fold, and 1 is lost. Jesus tells the story of the good shepherd who leaves the 99 who are safe to find the one that is lost. He likens this to the heart of God who cares about each and every one. Not only that, but Jesus challenges over and over again to be THE ONE that sees THE ONE. As followers of Jesus, we need to be the one that sees and reaches and cares and loves the one. Ask yourself, do people have to “deserve” your attention or do you love unconditionally as Jesus loved? That’s an amazingly powerful question.
The truth about Jesus is that He was always full of empathy. Unfortunately, the truth about us, oftentimes, is that we are full of apathy. God wants us to mourn with those who mourn, hurt with those who hurt, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15; I Corinthians 12:26). He wants us to care for others just like Jesus did. Empathy is a matter of the heart and requires that we engage in the lives and hurts and needs of others. My ability to empathize with others is a matter of my heart. May we all ask Jesus to grow our hearts to reflect Christlike empathy like never before.