This week’s lesson from the “Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide”, is titled “Jesus in Community Outreach”. The quarter’s previous lessons have led us to look at God’s intent for all of us sinners. How He longs to restore to us our lost dominion and how this is the undergirding of so much in the Old Testament. This week, we begin looking at Jesus’ life and His living-out this restoration theme. The connection cannot be missed between Christ’s actions and His follower’s actions (us). It’s as if we are looking at humanity through Christ’s eyes and are challenged to “see” what He “sees”… and to respond to what we see the same as He responds.
For many of us, staying at Dr. God’s hospital is our goal. But Dr. God tells us to “go” almost as soon as we arrive. “Go”, to be that conduit of healing-love to others. That our healing is contingent on our seeking to heal others. And so begins a shift in this quarter’s focus… sort-of. A “looking-out”, lifting our eyes a little higher and actually seeing our brothers and sisters all around us.
On Thursday’s lesson is a question that many of may not have thought about. In Matthew 10: 5-10 we have the account of Christ sending-out the “twelve” (v.5) to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v.6). Upon telling them their mission, He then says that they are to take no money, no credit cards, no luggage, no extra clothing. But to just go, “for a worker is worthy of his food” (v.10). The quarterly then asks the question, “Why would Jesus send His disciples out into the surrounding towns and villages without any resources?” (Quarterly pg.43). The quarterly answers, “apparently Jesus placed His disciples in this situation to teach them dependence on God and also the importance of creating friendships through service to the local residents. These local residents would then value their service enough to provide for the ministry” (quarterly pg. 43). All this is true, of course. But there is here a great lesson for us, too.
So often we approach our brothers and sisters outside of the church with the attitude that we have something they don’t and that we will graciously bestow this upon them, lost degraded sinners that they are. We know God and you do not, is the underlying assumption. And this assumption colors almost all aspects of our interaction with these brothers and sisters. But this underlying attitude is diametrically opposed to everything Divine. God came as a Babe, totally dependent on us sinners. He grew up as any human child, dependent on His parents. And even in His earthly ministry He was dependent on others, “many others who provided for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:3).
This is an important point. One not to be missed. We sinners are created in God’s image with “individuality, power to think and to do. It is (our) work… to develop this power…” (Education pg. 17). Not just to develop it in ourselves but in others, too. To help restore this individuality and this power. We “must be careful not to sacrifice the respect and dignity of others” (Reflecting Christ pg. 300). Here, then, is an opportunity. We can give to others something they may not have had for a long time. We can give them an opportunity to re-establish their dignity and self-respect by giving them an opportunity to give. That’s right. We may need to become very vulnerable as we give to others an opportunity to give to us. Thus being a conduit for restoring their dignity, awakening that image of God within them, “individuality, the power to think and to do” (quoted above).
I believe this is one of the reasons Christ told the “twelve” to “go” without any supplies. So they would need to “give” a most precious “gift” to those around them. The gift to others of giving to you. Amazing, is it not. May we so love our brothers and sisters enough to watch for opportunities to restore their dignity as God’s children. For it is “the love of God… shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5) that will give us insight into how best to love others. Love, which will be a balm for their souls… a restoration of true self-respect and dignity.
With brotherly love,