Jesus’ heartache for humanity informed his mission. Does it inform ours?
By Heber Ticas, Superintendent, Latin America
We often express a feeling of deep sorrow and anguish for others as a “heartache.” We use phrases like, “my heart aches for you,” “my heart is torn,” or “my heart is broken.” We are moved as we observe the pain, anguish, and misery that our fellow neighbor may be experiencing. In our shared humanity, it is impossible not to be moved. Although these experiences usually tend to occur around those who we are already in relationship with, there are times when the strings of our hearts are tugged by a story or event that it’s not as close. Events in our community, our state, our country can pull at our hearts – even across the world as we experienced while watching events unfold in the Ukraine.
As a church body, we are called to participate in Jesus’ everyday mission in our neighborhoods and communities. We want to do this in such a way that we discern what the Lord is already doing. This discernment is not possible unless we move from the interior walls of our insulated community, and into the fiber of our neighborhoods to discover the Jesus movements amongst those who are not yet in relationship with the Lord. As we move outside the walls, we must open our eyes to see and our minds to discern. I would encourage you to pray that the Lord would give you a heartache for your neighborhood. That your heart may ache for those who struggle with marital relationships, parent-child relationships, alcohol abuse, sickness, grief, and the many circumstances that tend to surround people’s lives.
I am convinced that this is what we find in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Not only did he empty himself to join our ranks, but he did it in such a way that he embodied his ministry. He moved outside the four walls of the synagogue and engaged the pain and anguish of his community. His heart ached as he encountered those who were struggling and suffering. This should not surprise us. The mission of God flows from the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; “For God so loved the world.” Consider Jesus’ heartache in the following passages:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mathew 9:35a – 36)
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it (Luke 19:41)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Mathew 11:28)
In these few passages we can discern the common thread of Jesus’ heart as he encountered people. I have not even mentioned the many times we read “Jesus had compassion,” and the times he paused to see and engage the stories of individuals.
Our missional engagements and missional postures have got to be informed by the incarnate mission of our Lord. As we embed ourselves into the fiber of our communities and discover those who labor and are heavy laden, our hearts will not be the same. We will find ourselves distressed in our Spirit just as Paul in the city of Athens. I strongly believe that this heartache can be the catalyst to move a congregation into the Love Avenue with passion and a sense of greater expectancy for missional participation. Our heartache can turn into an overwhelming joy as we point people to Jesus and experience the satisfaction of seeing lives transformed by the power of the Spirit.
Join me in praying to the Father for our hearts to be torn and broken for those who journey through life without the hope that we enjoy in Christ. May God give us a heartache for our neighborhoods. May he open lanes for us to engage and build lasting relationships that would facilitate coming to Jesus along with those who are seeking his rest.