I love birthday celebrations! Over the weekend we celebrated a close friend’s 50th at a beautiful high tea and lunch. I admire this friend a great deal because she extends God’s love to everyone she meets.
While most people are in a hurry nowadays and don’t have time to connect, my gregarious friend is intentional about reaching out to people and takes time to get to know them. She realizes that she is not a “group” person and likes focusing on people one-on-one. She loves others as she loves herself.
On Friday, a woman with a disfiguring skin disease attended our monthly women’s luncheon at church. I was so happy she decided to come, and I greeted her warmly, as did others. Later, I talked to this same friend about her and she told me, “I gave her my phone number and told her that if she ever needed to talk to someone, that she should call me.” I was ashamed! Why didn’t I reach out in that way? Why wasn’t I more intentional with Jesus’ love? But that is the kind of person my friend is, and that’s why so many cherish her.
While Jesus spoke to the crowds, he was also intentional about his love and focused on people individually. One of the best examples can be found in Luke 19. Jesus is being followed by throngs of people when he spots tax collector, Zacchaeus, perched in a tree. At that point, the crowd is airbrushed out and all that exists in the world are Jesus and Zacchaeus, when Jesus offers his hand of friendship. He looks up with a smile and says, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.
Zacchaeus had only heard of Jesus and didn’t know him from before, but Jesus made a point to know him, and through his love, brought Zacchaeus out of the tree. Zacchaeus must have felt Jesus’ warmth radiating towards him while he sat in the branches. That was all it took-a little one-on-one contact. Zacchaeus was now a believer!
When you are out in the world, do you look for that person you can call down from the tree? How often are you intentional about your love? The people you encounter may not look like you, act like you, they may be younger or older, but none of that matters when it comes to spreading Christ’s love. It is non-discriminatory. I know that I personally have a tendency to move so fast that I don’t always see the tree dwellers, but I desire to be more like Jesus, don’t you? Lord, please help us to slow down and show us who needs our intentional love today!