It is not difficult to recognize a world full of pain all around us. It does not matter if you are in Africa or America, China or Canada, Brazil or Britain, Russia or Rome, no matter where you look you find humanity in a state of despair.
When we travel as a ministry team we notice the elderly being abandoned and left to roam the streets in India. We see the orphan who has lost both parents and grand parents to HIV Aids in Africa. We see women being abused on every continent. We see starving children throughout the entire world and we see the child in the womb aborted at an alarming rate globally. The needs are simply not diminishing. If we are honest, we will conclude that Life is hard and very messy.
The world seems to be plummeting downward out of control. When I look only horizontally, I too grow in despair. But when I look up, my hope is restored. When I look up I see the Life Giver and I hear his call to follow. God is calling his people to be re-imaged into his likeness and become life givers to those around us. By God’s grace and his strength, we can make a difference. This is part of following Jesus, the Life Giver. The world is a messy place and we are called to step into that mess as we follow Jesus because that is where he is working.
I love the story of the Roman Captain described in Luke chapter 7. He decided to follow the life giver and become one himself. We know he heard of Jesus and you get a clear sense he was deeply impacted by who Jesus was. He believed Jesus had the authority to do things no other human could do. “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.”
He had a very unique relationship with his servant and the Jewish community. He highly valued his servant and he loved the Jewish nation and he built their synagogue. This centurion was not your typical Roman Captain. Something very dramatic had changed his life. He had chosen to turn from his life taking history and be transformed into the very likeness of Christ and become a life giving person.
I believe he did four very basic things that were life giving.
1. In order to understand the people he had conquered, he began to listen to them. I can only imagine how many days he spent just listening to them describe their hopes, desires, needs and hearing their life stories.
2. As he listened he learned about them. He learned what was important to them and began to understand the significance of their worship in a synagogue.
3. As he listened and learned he found himself falling in love with this people. He had heard their life story and all that they had been through and he fell in love with their nation.
4. Through all of this, listening, learning and falling in love with them, he decided to labor on their behalf and build their place of worship, their synagogue.
This is a truly amazing story. This man even amazed Jesus by his strong faith. This man was completely transformed by following the life giver himself. This can happen to each of us if we allow the giver tho impact us in the same way. It’s our choice to follow or not.
Each of us can practice the same four things that the centurion did right in our own homes, neighborhoods, communities and nation, and then into the whole world. Husbands and wives can become better listeners to each other. Don’t be surprised when you stop and really listen, that you will learn something new. Love will be renewed and your labor will not seem like its a labor. Parents are you listening to your children? Children are you listening to your parents? When this occurs families grow deeper together as they listen, learn, love and labor for one another. This applies in the workplace, in church, in communities and every relational aspect of our living.
We need to listen better to one another. We need to become students again and learn more about each other. We need to choose to love one another and we need to labor more generously for one another.
Following these four simple interpersonal practices will transform relationships all around us. In doing so we are following the life giver and becoming like him.