When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. ESV Matthew 9:36
I used to enjoy making fun of people. If you are having a bad day, just go to a public area and look at people. It won’t take long to see people weirder than you by a long shot, and then you can laugh at them and feel better! Even as I type these words now, I cringe. I used to think acting like this was normal, but over the years, God has slowly worked a heart change in me. As I have asked Jesus to change me, He has slowly given me a heart like His…a heart that loves people. I have a long way to go, but my journey has begun.
Our journey to loving people begins when we realize that each of those “weird” people is actually someone for whom Christ died. Yes, they dress funny, look funny, act funny, are easy to make fun of, but that person is a human being made in Christ’s image and impacted by the curse of sin. When Christ saw these people, he was moved with compassion on them, because He saw their “weirdness” as symptoms of harassment. Their sin (either self-imposed or done by others to them) left them helpless and tossed about as they wander through life. As we develop the heart of Jesus, we see the things we would normally make fun of (weird hair color, strange outfits, odd choice of significant other, etc.) as symptoms of a deeper heart void. We see them as sheep lacking the caring guidance of a shepherd. This change in our own heart is perhaps the greatest of spiritual formation…seeing each person the way Jesus sees them.
I share this because while I’m not a strong evangelist, I’m slowly growing in it. I believe the second step in evangelism (the first is having a personal encounter with the gospel yourself), is developing Christ’s love for others. The reason I haven’t shared my faith is because I haven’t loved others enough to see their need of the gospel or to have a burden myself to share it with them. As I see them harassed and helpless, I’m moved to want to help them…and that’s the heart of Jesus.