In my workshops I often talk about using a message series about “God’s Heart for Unconnected People” to prime the pump for asking people to volunteer to be a HOST in an upcoming church-wide alignment. While the Bible is full of great stories that talk about this idea, here are the two scripture passages that I use to illustrate the basis for what could be a message series.
Here is the basic idea for Matthew 9:35-36:
This passage clearly illustrates God’s heart for people. Everywhere Jesus went He saw people who were “harassed and helpless.” What do you think of when you hear word, “harassed?” Bill collectors calling? Playground punks teasing a smaller kid?
The first century word used here for “harassed” came from the same root as the word that meant flaying an animal…taking off its skin to prepare it for butchering. It was a tougher, harsher word than what most of us think of when we think harassment.
The word for “helpless?” It was a word that described the way a work animal threw itself to the ground after a long, hard day working in the fields. My dog Maxwell will run and bring a ball back over and over again. When playtime is over he’ll literally collapse to the ground. Not gracefully. Just collapse in a heap. That’s what the word “helpless” meant in the language of the first century.
When Jesus saw the crowds He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
I love this passage because it so clearly shows God’s heart for people who don’t have what they need. It’s always interesting to me that this is an instance where it isn’t Jesus speaking. There are plenty of places in the Gospels where you can read what Jesus said. This isn’t one of them. Rather, this is Matthew’s observation of Jesus’ body language in the midst of a crowd. This is Matthew reflecting on how Jesus felt about the people in the crowds. About how His heart broke for them.
How did Matthew know that this is what Jesus was thinking when He “saw the crowds?” I believe Matthew knew this look…because he had seen how Jesus interacted with people just like this when He came over to Matthew’s house for a dinner with Matthew’s friends…the “sinners and tax-collectors” mentioned in Matthew 9:9-13.
Matthew knew what most people don’t realize. He knew that God’s heart breaks for people who don’t have what they need. God sees them as harassed and helpless and His heart goes out to them. Jesus, God with skin on, modeled this for all of us.
Do you have a heart for people like that? If you have a heart for people like that…you could be a HOST.
Using this message:
The key to using this message is that talking with people about God’s heart for people prepares them for the moment when you ask them whether they have a heart for people like that. I do it just like that. I say, “Do you have a heart for people like that? If you have a heart for people like that…you could be a HOST.”
What comes next? I begin what I call “the dance.” There are several specific elements of the dance. Done correctly it will lead people from the moment when they are adequately prepared all the way to the moment when they turn in their commitment card. You’ll find the rest of what I call “the dance” right here: Making the Ask
See also, God’s Heart for Unconnected People, Part Two.