October 4 I Tuesday
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” —Matthew 9:36
How do we engage with the mission of the church? We can see an approach through Jesus, when He was going through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Yet, when Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them. Matthew explains, “…because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). It is interesting that the first thing Jesus saw in the crowd around Him was not the abundance of sickness, but the great spiritual need of people who have no centre, whose existence seems a bit aimless and whose experience is one of futility. Jesus was filled with compassion.
As we look at the world around us, what is our posture towards it? Many of us may answer that the world is hostile, hateful, selfish, sinful, secular or self-absorbed. But Jesus saw the culture around Him and described it as harassed and helpless, which generates a very different emotion. The truth is: how we see others has a profound impact on our posture towards them when we step into sharing the message of Jesus. If we primarily see them as the opposition, then we will subconsciously embark on sharing the life, message and teachings of Jesus in an oppositional way. If we see them primarily as selfish or sinful, we may approach mission in a condescending or paternalistic way. Because Jesus’s posture was one of compassion, He saw an opening, a culture that was ripe to be welcomed into the fullness of what He had for them.
But Jesus did not immediately jump into action—it is important to know that the missionary endeavour begins on our knees with intercession. Jesus tells His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). We must remember that there is a Lord of a harvest who knows exactly what is needed in His field; after all, it is His field that we are stepping into. Hence, we are not to run around attempting to meet every need that we come into contact with but ask the Lord of the harvest to send the right people, at the right time, in the right way to reap the harvest. The mission of the church begins with Jesus. He is the head of the church and He is building it as He sees fit.
As we join Jesus in this mission, it flows out of our being in Him, where His vision becomes our vision, His compassion becomes our compassion and His perspective towards the culture becomes our perspective.
Prayer: Lord of the harvest, teach me to see the world with Your eyes of compassion. Guide me in how I can share Your good news. Thank You, Lord.