Jesus came to help the sick.
What does it take to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ? I’m talking about reaching them in a way that changes lives.
Doug Nichols tells a story about his days spent in a sanitarium in India in 1967. Doug had been stricken with tuberculosis while serving as a missionary. Doug tried to give Christian literature, written in their language, to other patients, nurses and doctors. Most refused to accept the literature. Others read it and set it aside, not paying it much attention.
One night, Doug noticed an elderly man trying to get up out of bed. The man was weak and ended up falling back into bed. The next morning, the stench coming from the man’s bed made Doug realize that the man had been trying to get up and go to the bathroom. Other patients hurled insults at the man as the staff very roughly cleaned the man up.
The next night, Doug noticed the man trying to get up again. Doug went over and helped the man up. The man was very fail and slight, so Doug just carried him to the bathroom and then back to bed.
The next morning, several patients and doctors and nurses, one by one, came to Doug and asked him for the Christian literature they had previously rejected. Doug discovered weeks later that several had accepted Christ after reading the literature. But it wasn’t only the literature that led them to their life-changing decision. They also needed to see Doug’s simple act of compassion.
Matthew 9:35-36 says, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” This is a theme you will find throughout the gospels. Proclamation is always accompanied by compassion.
Our world gives us lots of opportunities to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ by having compassion. There is never a shortage of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, big events that leave people in need of relief and recovery. And Christians are good at proclaiming the love of Jesus through acts of compassion during those tragedies.
But proclaiming the love of Jesus through acts of compassion cannot be reserved for only the big tragedies. There are people around us every day who are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” It is a tragedy that many remain lost, not because they haven’t heard the good news proclaimed, but because proclamation was not accompanied by compassion.
Christians are called to make disciples of Jesus by reaching people with the good news of Jesus. Let us remember to imitate Jesus in doing that, by balancing our proclamation with compassion, not only in the big storms, but also in the little storms of every day life.