by Rev. James Wong
Jesus attracted large crowds wherever he went (Matthew 4:25) and at one time the crowds almost crushed him (Luke 8:42). Jesus used two fish and five loaves to feed the 5,000, not counting the women and children, (Matthew 14:20-21). What attracted so many people to Jesus? Here are the reasons.
1. Jesus attracted the crowds by loving unbelievers. Jesus spent more time with sinners than with the religious people of his day. He said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). He went to the sinners’ parties, he mixed around with sinners so much so he got a bad name for himself. He was called “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). He loved unbelievers and even children were attracted to him. That speaks volumes about what kind of person Jesus was.
Love draws people in like a powerful magnet. Our love must be focused toward our new friends or visitors, not just toward each other. Great churches are built on love; love for God, love for each other and love for outsiders. If we don’t love people nothing else matters. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” 1 John 4:8 (NIV).
Showing love by making people feel accepted. The way Jesus connect with people contravene the culture of his days. A Jew would not talk to a Samaritan woman in public but Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, a loose woman who had affairs with 6 men (John 4). Jesus went to stay with Mr. Zacchaeus the chief tax collector, head of corruption, (Luke 19). To make people feel accepted, we can welcome them warmly with a smile and handshake. We should not prejudge people, criticize them or make negative comments about them. Learning to be warm and nice to people when they show up makes people feel welcome.
2. Jesus attracted the crowds by meeting people’s need. People crowded around Jesus because he met their needs—physical, emotional, spiritual and relational. The church is not just about spiritual needs. In fact James said, a lot of spiritual language amounted to uselessness. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16 (NIV).
Understand universal needs. The universal needs of people are need for love, acceptance, forgiveness, meaning, purpose of living, freedom from fear, worry, discouragement, conflicts in relationship, loneliness and etc. Everyone of us can meet some of these needs by just being a loving and caring friend especially to new comers to church. “A friend is loving at all times, and becomes a brother in times of trouble” Proverbs 17:17 (BBE). Let’s make someone feel loved today.