For many years now I’ve noticed Jesus’ predictable pattern of being within a large crowd, but zeroing in on a specific individual. Here are some random examples:
Once, while in a Synagogue speaking to a crowded room, He zeroed in on a man with a withered hand and healed him. Again while walking down the road, Jesus noticing a man who had climbed up into a tree confronted the man, then invited Himself to the man’s home. Once while surrounded by a crowd, He and His entourage came upon a funeral procession. Two large groups of people converged on a tiny village street, who would you have noticed? Jesus noticed the mother of the deceased, then brought her only son back to life. One time at the temple, with dozens of people arriving and departing, Jesus noticed a single widow, and what she put in the offering, making her a legendary example of faith. Once while at a well He noticed a woman drawing water and spoke to her. There are many more to be discovered in the Gospels. Jesus ‘noticed’ individuals, often.
Most of us are in a crowd at least daily, and often multiple times throughout a day. Take a moment to reflect on the last crowd that you were in. (coffee shop, grocery store, big box store, traffic, ball practice, gas station, church, library (public place known for loaning out actual printed books), jury duty etc. What’d I miss?
While it would have been culturally typical, and even appropriate for Jesus to see people in terms of ethnicity, gender, occupation, political affiliation, religious affiliation, social status or lack thereof etc. He somehow rejected all those divisive social lenses and just saw, well, people! It’s time for you and I to follow His example. Individual people matter to Jesus and He wants to ‘notice’ them through His body, you and I.
We can do the same thing. It helped me when I turned off Fox News (for you it may be CNN or MSNBC). It helped when I began to ask God to put people in my path today who wanted, needed or just plain old deserved to hear about Him. I let the Lord know that I love Him and would welcome the opportunity to tell others about Him, after all He changed my life! I had not done so well at just ‘telling everyone’ so I decided to ask Him to show me who wanted to hear about Him. It worked.
The first thing I began to notice was the insane amount of people that I had interacted with, but never saw them as anything more than a service provider for my needs. It sounds rough, but you are likely doing, or have done, the same thing. here they are, in no particular order:
The young lady at the local Firehouse subs had learned my name, but I hadn’t learned hers. The ladies at the bank knew me by my name, their name was printed and setting on the counter but I’d never called them by it. The UPS, Fed Ex, Crystal Springs and elevator guys that come into our church office all have names. I didn’t know any of them. They also often need water or use of the facilities but have never asked. As I began talking to people, as individuals separate from the uniform they wore or the forced relationship we had, they responded.
There was the waitress who quickly shared with me that just last week she had hit a pedestrian. The police were not allowed to let her know the condition of the victim, like whether he lived or died. She was really hurting, so much so that she quickly talked about it once someone took the time to ‘notice’ her.
There was the guy that served our lunch one day. He hated waiting tables, in fact the only reason he was doing it was to work his way through HVAC school. He thanked me for seeing him as a person, not just as a server. Being a served was a title he loathed.
There was the lady at the front desk. She look tired but was very polite and professional. She shared how she was a struggling single mom giving it all she had to raiser her twin girls! I share my sister’s story with her and she found encouragement from another mom who was thriving with twin girls!
Well, a unique metamorphosis has occurred. I tend to notice people and even catch their names now. I even try to pronounce their name correctly after only reading it on their name tag. I have offered to pray with people, encourage them and even ask if they knew the Lord. I have a long ways to go but even slow progress is measureable. How about you? Notice the people around you, engage them and they’ll notice Jesus in you. Jesus rarely ministered to crowds, He ministered to individuals. We can too, but we must fist ‘notice’ them! I’d love to hear your stories!