Walking Alongside

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
Matthew 5:1

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been large.

In the 7th grade I played basketball for the Gavin Central Tigers. I was the tallest kid on the team. I played center. I was so big that I wasn’t able to wear the same warm-up pullovers that the rest of team wore. So, I was given a dark green wool warm-up jacket that today could be used as a prop for the movie “Hoosiers.”

Throughout high school I was always a little bigger than the majority of my classmates. Couple that with an uncanny gift for sarcasm and snarkiness and I was a target of some of the other big kids and upperclassmen.

When I started my degree in pastoral ministry I gravitated toward youth ministry but found that I was a bit intimidating to younger kids.

And as a pastor I’ve often been told that I’m somewhat scary, especially to younger children. That comes with being 6’4” and weighing around 300 pounds.

For a while I made matters worse by growing a beard.

I had to find a way to not be so scary to people.

I found that one way that worked, especially for children, was to “go down to their level.” I would sit in a chair or even on the floor to teach or talk to them.

I also found that it helped to speak softly and with a smile on my face.

That got me to thinking about how Jesus was so successful in speaking and teaching to people during his earthly ministry.

One clue to Jesus’ success is found in both Matthew 5 and Luke 6.

sermon-on-the-mountIn Matthew 5 begins what is called Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.”

Matthew’s introduction tells us that Jesus “went up on the mountain.”

I get the picture that people had to look up to Jesus to hear his teaching.

To look up to a person to one way of saying that this person is an authority figure. Jesus certainly was that!

As an authority figure, Jesus could tell his audience things that they could and should take to heart. He expounded on the Ten Commandments, encouraged his followers to live a salt-filled and light-filled life of righteousness, and he gave them the Good News that he had come to fulfill the Law.

sermon-on-the-plainIn Luke 6 Jesus again teaches, but this time we’re told that Jesus “came down with them [the 12 Apostles] and stood on a level place.

Jesus “lowers” himself to his disciple’s level in order to teach them much the same things as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

This has taught me – and continues to teach me – a lot about teaching and preaching to people.

With children, I need to get down on the ground with them – both physically as well as with the words that I use.

With some adults, I need to proceed from the position of the authority given me by the Holy Spirit through my call in order to be recognized as someone worth listening to.

With others, I need to walk alongside them during their life and circumstances.

Jesus did this and set the standard for all those who would follow in his footsteps of proclaiming his Gospel.

Jesus walked with us. His feet got dirty as ours do. There was grime under his fingernails just like we get. He traveled a path of sorrow, pain, and even death – just like we do.

I can never shy away from that model of sharing the Good News.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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