When was the last time you were inspired by another person’s passion? The other day I was watching a cooking show and was inspired by the passion and devotion this chef had for cooking french cuisine. He made me want to buy an apron and start cooking truffles! I am always amazed by how moved I get whenever I see someone doing something they are passionate about.
After I finished the show, here’s what really challenged me: if someone can be this excited about cooking, then how much more excited should I be about helping people people encounter Jesus? Jesus is the one who rescues us from our brokenness and the darkness that we all get caught up in. There’s nothing better than getting to be a part of what God wants to do in another person’s life.
Have you ever heard the story of the guys who brought their paralyzed friend to see Jesus? It’s a great story in Luke 5 of some friends whose passion moved them to do whatever it took to get their buddy to meet Jesus:
One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus (Luke 5:17-19).
I love how these guys didn’t give up when it seemed like there was no way to get their friend to the one person they knew could do something to help him. They worked together and thought outside the box to get their friend as close as they could to Jesus because they were passionate about helping him. And how did Jesus respond to their passionate labour of love? He extended an offer of new life to their friend by forgiving his sins and healing him in a way that no one was expecting. Jesus healed him internally, he healed him spiritually:
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 15:20).
Why did Jesus do this? Because of the passionate faith of his friends. They believed that Jesus could do something epic. Their faith in Jesus fuelled their passion and prompted them to do something extraordinary for their friend. And what happened next is incredible. God uses this as an opportunity to amaze everyone there that day. Jesus goes on to heal their friend physically in order to demonstrate his power and authority to help all of us spiritually:
So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Luke 5:24)
And he did! The guy gets up in front of everyone and walks out of the house. Everyone there is completely blown away. Just look at how they respond:
Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!” (Luke 5:26)
I bet the people there that day were inspired by the passionate effort of these guys as they helped their friend encounter Jesus. But, more than just being inspired by these guys, they were amazed by what Jesus did and gave glory to God. They said they had seen amazing things. This phrase in the Greek language in which Luke originally wrote this story is paradoxos. It means to encounter something unexpected, uncommon, incredible, wonderful. It’s where we get our English word “paradox”. A paradox is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory proposition that when investigated proves to be true. Jesus’ claim that he can forgive sins was a paradox for the religious leaders who were there that day:
But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” (Luke 5:21)
And they were right to be shocked because only God has the divine right to forgive somebody’s sins. So for Jesus to do this is absurd. Who does he think he is? Jesus is a paradox to them. A paradox, that is, until Jesus did something extraordinary, something amazing in front of everyone. He did something that was prompted by the faith of some guys who decided to act on their passion to help their friend:
Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Luke 5:22-24)
Two amazing things happened on this day. These guys did something extraordinary in embracing their passion in getting their friend to Jesus so Jesus could do something extraordinary for him.
Isn’t this what we are called to do? To do the extraordinary, the amazing, the unexpected, the uncommon, the incredible, the wonderful for others because we are passionate about bringing them closer Jesus so he can do the ultimate paradoxos in their lives – just like he’s done in our lives?
Maybe there is someone in your life who you would love to help have an encounter with Jesus. Maybe there’s someone you want to bring with you to church, but you’re not sure if they’ll want to come or if you have the courage to invite them. Maybe your thinking there is no way they would be open to checking things out. It seems like there are too many obstacles between them and Jesus and so you are giving up and not doing anything to help them get closer.
Too often I settle for doing less than the extraordinary for the benefit of others because I lack the faith that God can do something amazing beyond what I can see. I let the obstacles diminish my passion to help lead them toward Jesus instead of letting Jesus fuel my passion. I lack the faith that He can use me when I am tired or stressed or afraid or feel overwhelmed. I lack a passionate faith that He can use me to help others encounter him when I feel insecure or insignificant or less than able.
And, yet, when we cannot see how God can do something amazing, how He can do something extraordinary beyond what we can see, we can still choose to act in faith and let Jesus amaze us. We can be like these guys who look at the crowd and cannot see how they can get their buddy to Jesus until one of them points his chin to the roof with a gleam in his eye and says, “Let do something amazing today.”
People in your life are not going to see Jesus do amazing things until you are willing do something amazing for them. Embrace the paradox because Jesus is all about doing the extraordinary.
– Joel Enyart, Lead Pastor