As Christians this is something we are, or at least should be absorbed with. Jesus told his first followers to be like him, he told them repeatedly go and do likewise, and even to do things more extraordinary than he did[i]. And that is no small order, coming from the Son of God, who raised people from the dead, gave the blind sight, showed the lame how to walk, and set the oppressed free. So in 2012, what does it really mean to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus?
We live in a country that prides itself on individuality, and personal space, and private affairs. In most of our communities we drive into a garage, and never see our neighbors. We don’t know the people we live around, and we don’t know their issues. The same is true in our churches, we come to Sunday School, and we then sit in our pew with the few people we have talked with, and even then we shake hands, and exchange how we are doing “good.” So from our cubicles and offices, to garages, to pews, we have become very isolated, and uninformed with the people and issues that sit within 10 feet of us at any given time. This is a modern peculiarity.
Jesus was never alone. From birth to death, he was always around other people. This is what made him a great minister from a human standpoint. He surrounded himself with the people who needed to hear the message of hope. So why did Jesus do it this way? Matthew tells us Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”[ii] Jesus himself uses this metaphor again speaking to those who would become the apostles saying “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep.”[iii]Jesus was never alone because he cared deeply for the people, and as we know gave his life up so we may have love and forgiveness.
So what does this really mean for us?
How do we view the “sinners” in our midst? How about that man with the sign in the median that we cannot look at? Or what about the homeless man in the alley? Even more do we know who is struggling in their marriage, and needs someone to listen? Or what about the single mother trying to pay rent, and raise her children? Do we really know the people around us? Do we know the people in our churches, and what little things we could do to help “carry one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”?[iv]
If we want to live like Christ, we are called to surround ourselves with our communities, and the people in them. Even more, we must be willing to die to our own selfish desires and serve them, even if it hurts, or is awkward. Being like Christ means doing good, and doing good is an inconvenience in this world. I encourage you, search out those around you, and see how you can serve them, in this way it becomes a lifestyle, not a service project, and real change happens.
[i] John 14:12
[ii] Matthew 9:36
[iii] John 10:11-14
[iv] Galatians 6:2