God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw how Paul was invited to teach in the local synagogue in Antioch. And how he shared Jesus with the people there, both Jews and Gentiles. And how he experienced both great success in that many gave their lives to Christ, and, he encountered great opposition too. In that post we explored five reasons why Paul and Barnabas enjoyed such success in sharing Jesus. If you’re interested, you can learn more here: 5 Reasons Paul and Barnabas were so Effective in Sharing Jesus–Acts 13:13-52.
Eventually, their great success caused the Jewish unbelievers to stir up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and they were run out of town. Interestingly, in spite of that experience, the last verse in chapter 13 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
So from Antioch they traveled to Iconium and after Iconium they move on to Lystra where they encounter “a man sitting who could not use his feet.” Paul sees this man. And the way Paul sees this man is the way Jesus saw people. Today we’ll see why that’s so important.
Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.Acts 14:1-7
Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well . . .Acts 14:8-9
Again the Holy Spirit takes them to the synagogue, and again they speak in such a way that many believe, both Jews and Gentiles in this case. And, again we see the unbelieving Jews stir up opposition. But, in spite of this opposition, Paul and Barnabas remain in Iconium for a long time, speaking boldly for Jesus, who bore witness to their message by granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
But the people in Iconium were divided: some sided with the apostles, and some sided with the unbelieving Jewish people. Eventually the unbelieving people there started to organize an effort to stone them. Paul and Barnabas found out and they left Iconium and went to Lystra and Derbe.
In Lystra is where Paul encounters this man who was sitting and couldn’t use his feet. He was crippled from birth and he had never walked. He was listening to Paul speaking when,
Paul sees him.
The Way Jesus Saw People
Seeing people in this way is something we see in Jesus. Jesus seems to see people other people discount, people others don’t see. In his excellent book Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus, Paul Miller writes, “Altogether the Gospels mention Jesus looking at people about forty times.”
Jesus “saw the crowds” and “he had compassion for them.”
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him . . .”
“Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved . . .” (Matthew 9:36, Mark 10:21, John 19:26-27)
In Luke chapter 7 there was a widow whose only son had died, and he was being carried out of the town. “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her . . .” (Luke 7:11-17)
This is an important trait of Jesus. He saw people. In my own book, Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus) I cover a long list of ways Jesus loved others, but I missed this. Before I wrote Love Like Jesus, I intentionally avoided reading Paul Miller’s book about loving like Jesus because I didn’t want to unintentionally use any of his work. Now that I’ve read Miller though, maybe I’ll add it in a later edition of Love Like Jesus (with appropriate attribution of course).
Anyway, Paul Miller goes on to write that Jesus teaches us to see others not just by his own example but also in his parables. In the story of the good Samaritan, the Samaritan sees the half dead victim of a robbery, and he had compassion. He went to him, he bound his injuries, he poured oil and wine on his wounds. Then he picked him up and loaded him on his animal and brought him to an inn where he cared for him.
There’s a price to pay when we see people, Miller writes. We’re in control before we see someone. We’re the master of our own day. We have things we want to accomplish but we give up those things when we really see someone the way Jesus sees. When we see someone in need like the beaten victim of the robbery, we’re no longer the master.
We become the servant.
The priest came upon the same man but he looked the other way, and he passed by on the other side. The Levite came upon the same man but he too chose not to see and passed by on the other side. They remained in control of their day. They didn’t risk touching a man who may have been dead which would have caused them to become ritually unclean. (Luke 10:25-37)
But they didn’t see the way Jesus saw.
And they didn’t see the way Jesus wants you and I to see.
Mother Theresa once spoke of a group of people who opposed building a facility for lepers but they were eventually persuaded. Speaking of this group Mother Theresa said, “Once they saw, they understood.”
Most of the information in this blog post came from Paul Miller’s book. Toward the end of his chapter about seeing like Jesus, Miller wrote this:
Jesus is not just offering good advice. He tells us [to see others like Jesus] to disrupt our “safe” world so that we can begin to see people and stop looking through the narrow lens of “our group.” Unless we do that, we won’t be able to love.Paul E. Miller
Paul E. Miller, Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus,
Now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.