Do you see a problem or do you see a person?

Person or Problem


When you hear the word, “camping,” what picture comes to mind?  DO you think about Bear Grylls out in the wild with nothing but a backpack or knife?  Do you think about your camper at some campground with shared facilities?  Or do you think about a $500,000 camper with satellite TV and a hot tub?

It’s easy to see how we can have different perspectives on the same subject.

What is your perspective on Jesus’ command to love God and love people?  More importantly, what was Jesus’ perspective on what he taught?  From what vantage point was he communicating?  Right after Jesus said this command he illustrates it through one of his most popular miracles; feeding over 5000 people with an ancient happy meal (five small loaves of bread and two slight fish).  Matthew 14:13-21

I believe the key word to understand Jesus’ perspective in this story is when Matthew describes Jesus’ looking on the people and having compassion on them.  The Greek word for compassion here literally means “the bowels.”  This is because ancients believed gut wrenching emotion originated from the belly region.

This framework informed Jesus’ perspective in this story.

The story presents a problem.  Over 5000 men, plus women and children, had come into a remote place to hear Jesus teach.  It is now coming near dinner time and people did not have food and there was no fast food row nearby.  How were the people to be fed?

After a cursory search they find the boy with food, and maybe you are like Andrew, who did a quick feasibility study and determined that wasn’t enough food. Well, duh.  Like I said there were no restaurants nearby, no caterers, no one had even brought a camper with a portable fire pit.  How could you feed everyone?

Like many of us Andrew saw a problem.  Jesus had a different perspective.  He saw people.

As he was teaching Jesus healed this group of people, he taught them, he ministered to them.  In the Gospel of Luke it says simply that Jesus welcomed them.  He saw people.

This is why Jesus says, “Hey guys, you feed them!”  They’re like, how and with what?

Jesus basically said, “Bring me what you have.”  They brought the happy meal and Jesus provided a meal for everyone.

The same is true for us, we bring what we have to Jesus, let him do what he does, and then we do what we can do.

So many times we don’t follow this simple plan because we a problem and not people.  If we saw people and not a problem then we would take the problem to Jesus and Jesus to the people.

When it comes to reaching people in our community do we see problems or do we see people?  Do we think it’s beyond our ability to help out?  Do you think we don’t have the resources?

We need to have the mind of Helen Keller who said, “I cannot do everything, but I can do one thing.”  This story reveals the power of the gift of one.  The disciples received one gift from a little boy and God used that to feed thousands. Helping people is a command of God.  Solving the world’s problems is not.  I believe when we seek to focus on people we will begin to solve the world’s problems.  We have to trust God to enable us to help others.  We need to see the person and not the problem.

Bottom line: It’s not about seeing the project through.  It’s about seeing God come through.  And it can begin with just one.  It can begin with you.


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