The title: “Jesus Desired Their Good” is engrossed with meanings. It reminds the reader of what Ellen G. White said regarding the ideal ministry of Jesus towards others. She fittingly indicated that Jesus ministered to the people “as one who desired their good.” Such an ideal method opened various networks for evangelism. It further tells of a church that is located nearby the skateboard park. Which in turn, places the church in the right place—community outreach.
Jesus Desired Their Good for a noble reason: “In order to reach all classes, we must meet them where they are; for they will seldom seek us of their own accord. Not alone from the pulpit are the hearts of men and women touched by divine truth. Christ awakened their interest by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them at their daily avocations and manifested an unfeigned interest in their temporal affairs.”
That, for me, is the core issue for community outreach. Unlike the example of Prophet Jonah that reminds us too much of ourselves: fearful, selfish, spiteful, and proud. On the other hand, the example of Jesus where He cared deeply for the inhabitants of Jerusalem reminds us of His selfless, and caring attitude towards the people. Dr. Luke records Jesus’ lament to show His profound concern for Jerusalem and its people.
It appears that the very act of community outreach is to mingle with people for the right reasons. I, as a Christian, should mingle with others because I would love to show God’s love and genuinely care for their salvation. Moreover, it is by mingling and not by withdrawing from the culture that we become like Jesus we are presenting. Jesus admonishes us to be kind to people in any situation even when others’ aim is to dislike us. That is to say, our hearts should be “filled with sympathy and compassion” when ministering to others. It might not be easy but it effects “brings a rich reward” to those who embrace such work.
Followers of Jesus should not be complacent with regard to their community outreach. At the same time, work against compassion fatigue safeguards their burning zeal for mission. For “those who engage in it with sincerity of purpose will see souls won to the Saviour, for the influence that attends the practical carrying out of the divine commission is irresistible.”
To me, what seems to have captivated Jesus for community outreach is His sympathy that is embodied in love! If we are fired with the love of a dying Saviour, if our hearts are baptized with Christ’s love, our community outreach will not be a challenge. It would be the fruit to our faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 13 has been well known as the “Love Chapter.” Though this chapter masterfully presents the many facets of “agape” love, it was not intended as an isolated essay. In fact, it is integral to Paul’s reasoning regarding the Corinthian fixation with spiritual gifts. Paul here sets forth love as one of the two principal motives that should control the use of spiritual gifts.
The Spirit of Prophecy calls our attention to read the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians “everyday, and from, it obtains comfort and strength.” Only by love, Ellen G. White said, is love awakened. Archbishop Usher calls love the 11th commandment. Rabbi Julius Gordon said, “Love is not blind—it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less.” Above all, “love never fails” (1 Cor 13:8).
One of the best contemporary examples that portray a deep love for others is the story of Francis of Assisi. He was terrified of leprosy. And one day, full in the narrow path that he was traveling, he saw, horribly white in the sunshine, a leper! Instinctively his heart shrank back, recoiling shudderingly from the contamination of that loathsome disease. But then he rallied and, ashamed of himself, ran and cast his arms about the sufferer’s neck and kissed him and passed on. A moment later he looked back, and there was no one there, only the empty road in the hot sunlight. All his days thereafter he was sure it was no leper, but Christ Himself whom he had met.
Therefore, redemption has two consequences. First, it means we are free, free from guilt and the burden of sin. Second, we are released to serve God. Redemption by itself calls us to the highest level of commitment. Consequently, the church’s role is not only to look inward to the truth it possesses, but also to look outward to the world to find the focal object of its mission. We must be willing to serve others as Christ did. We need Christ’s second touch that is motivated by love so that our outreach should encompass those who are inside and outside of the church. If love is taken away from mission, the result is obvious: colonialism and imperialism. Our imitation of God’s love is also seen in our love for others. John makes this explicit: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Youssry Guirguis is a PhD Candidate at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines.
Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing. (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1905), 143.
Ellen G. White, My Life Today. (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952), 186.
Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles. (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911), 110.
Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, July 21, 1904
Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers (Garland TX: Bible Communications, 1979), 759.