Engage people like a diamond expert approaches mining diamonds, like Jesus.
When the expert encounters a mud-caked diamond-in-the-rough, his response is not, “what a clod of dirt!”
No, he focuses on the potential hidden by the clod. This future possibility is the true value of a diamond, not its present condition. The diamond expert looks beyond the mud and muck, beyond the outward imperfection to see…to really scope in on…the radiant diamond beneath the sludge. He waits breathlessly for this gem to be cleaned, cut and celebrated.
Jesus never met a person He did not value as a treasure greater than the Hope Diamond.
Do you know the value of one image-bearer?
I believe this explains why the marginalized of His society were so drawn to Jesus (like tax collectors and harlots). He approached these “invisible people” as fractured image-bearers through the lens of Trinity-Vision (beginning with the Triune God in our thinking). Jesus viewed them from the perspective of God’s creation-intent, rather than initially through their current sin patterns. He still does.
Jesus engaged broken people, therefore, without condemnation.
Yet also without compromise, like the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not shame or condemn her, but pointed her to where she could find life. Also, the woman at the well attempted to fill a legitimate, unmet, God-given need for belonging in illegitimate ways (through men). Jesus pointed to Himself as the living water so this deep, empty recess could be filled by life Itself.
Jesus looked at their caterpillar responses and saw the monarch butterfly within. Perhaps you may even feel a bit marginalized or abandoned yourself, not quite fitting in. Jesus longs to restore you, and everyone like us, to intimacy with His Father in His Forever Family.
From this base, Jesus responded to each one individually with deep compassion as still in-process on their journey. He met people on the way right where they were. He also did not ignore the veil of fallenness separating unbelievers eternally from the Father’s life.
Jesus was aware of obstacles that hindered the release of their highest and best. Their shadow side never put Jesus off. Instead, it released His compassion to come alongside with hands-on help. Instead, He partnered with the Father and the Holy Spirit to do others good. Jesus met them with creativity and abundance. He met the needy at that point where they could best receive and in ways beyond what they could conceive. Even those who attacked Him. Scripture calls us to serve others; not necessarily to please them.
Finally, Jesus patiently persevered. He trusted His Father and the Spirit to do their faithful work in restoring God’s unswerving creation-intent for joyful intimacy. Jesus knows who He is. Therefore, He is nether offended nor put off by the attacking responses from others against Him. Hope working through faith provides long-range perspective. He has no privatized turf to protect. His identity is secure as Son of Man. Jesus had nothing within Him on which the enemy could latch (John 14:30). Spiritual multiplication was always on His heart.
How did Jesus engage people? With…
Faith! Love! Hope!