People loved Jesus as He ministered on this earth. Men, women, and children of all walks of life, including some Pharisees, followed Him non-stop, forcing Him to find deserted places late at night to pray. He could not get away from people. Whenever Jesus was visible, crowds surrounded Him. People could not get enough of Him; they wanted to connect with Him, see Him, hear Him, and touch Him. On several occasions, the disciples had to ask, “What are we going to do with the crowd?”
What caused people to love Jesus? What made people follow Him so intensely? As I read the Gospels, I can see that:
• Jesus was not loved because of His dress. The Bible does not say much about Jesus and dress; it mentions His clothing during the crucifixion as the soldiers gambled at the foot of the cross for His garments, but little else is said.
• Jesus was not followed because of His diet. Jesus was not a vegetarian. I am vegan, and, by the way, this does not increase my odds for salvation. We are not saved by eating lettuce and tomatoes; we are only saved by Jesus. People did not follow Jesus because He was a vegetarian.
• Jesus was not loved or followed because of His taste in music. Scripture does not elaborate much at all on Jesus’ taste in music.
• Jesus was not even followed and loved because of His perfection. After all, when was the last time you told someone that you were better than him or her and they continued to like you and hang around with you?
People followed Jesus because Jesus loved them. People loved Jesus because Jesus loved people.
If people are not flocking to us, if our churches are not full and our ministries are not thriving, perhaps we have not been doing what Jesus did. Perhaps we need to learn more from Jesus. Let’s stop saying that our churches are empty because we preach an unpopular message; instead, let’s begin to love people. We have a very complete package of beliefs, so the problem is not our message. Our challenge is our lack of love and compassion for people.
The biggest revival and reformation the Adventist Church needs is to be filled with the love of God and the compassion of Jesus. As long as we continue to argue about dress, diet, music, and other things, we will never fulfill the mission Jesus gave us. There is no better evangelism than to freely share the love of God and the compassion of Jesus in practical ways in our homes, our churches, and our communities.
A compassionate lifestyle is real evangelism. Not everyone can preach or teach, but we all can love and serve, and that is evangelism. If you don’t agree, ask Jesus.
This article first appeared in Best Practices on April 14, 2015. It has been lightly edited for Elder’s Digest. Used by permission.
Jose Cortes, Jr., is an Associate Ministerial Secretary who leads evangelism efforts for the Adventist Church in North America.