Saturday, March 07, 2009

Every Person We Meet

One of the 5 principles that we have adopted at Skillman as part of our effort to become more missional is "Every person we meet is created and loved by God". The following is the lesson I wrote for our life groups to use as a basis of discussion.

Dwelling In the Word – Luke 7:18-22
18 The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?" 20 When the men came to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, `Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?' " 21 At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22 And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

I was in Austin a couple of years ago attending the annual Texas Association of School Administrators Midwinter Conference. Austin suffers from severe traffic congestion, and with the legislature in session, plus a thousand school superintendents and about twice that many more other administrators the problem was magnified. One afternoon it took more than twenty minutes to drive the mile from the convention center to my hotel. People were typically impatient and all seemed to be in a hurry to get where they were going.

As I pulled up to the light at my exit, there was a shabbily dressed woman walking from car to car with a sign asking for money. As she came near, I made eye contact with her and smiled. She started to pass by, then backed up and motioned for me to roll down my window. She said, "I have been standing on this corner for over two hours, and you are the first person I have seen smile. I just wanted to thank you for smiling and tell you to have a blessed day."

(Rubel Shelley tells this story about Josh Graves)
Professor Jack was a homeless man in Detroit. In better days, he played in a band, owned a restaurant, and had a family. Addiction to drugs took all those things away from Jack. When Josh first met him, Jack was taking a meal from some church members whose hearts had been convicted about their need to help the poor. And he certainly qualified.

Jack began to be a tutor and coach to my young friend as the two just sat and talked. Josh can, in fact, tick off a catalog of things he learned from Jack. One of the most important lessons came early in the course.

As with first-rate teachers from Moses to Socrates to Jesus, Jack was open to questions. So Josh dared to ask him what good-intentioned people with charitable hearts could do that would really make a difference for the poor and homeless. "Make us feel real," he said. "We want to feel like we are real people. See us. Talk to us. Be with us. Help us feel. It isn't just about feeding us or giving us clothes. It's about seeing us."

1. What does the passage from Luke imply about the way Jesus interacted with the people he encountered?

2. What do the two stories imply about the way we interact with the people we encounter? What are the similarities of our interactions with people with those of Jesus’ interactions with people? What are the differences?

3. Do we really believe that every person we meet is created and loved by God?

4. What would it look like if we took to heart this quote from Oswald Chambers?

When the Spirit of God has shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, we begin deliberately to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ's interests in other people, and Jesus Christ is interested in every kind of man there is. We have no right in Christian work to be guided by our affinities; this is one of the biggest tests of our relationship to Jesus Christ.

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