“Making a difference” isn’t only a Christian idea. But it is central to the Christian faith. Peter, one of the disciples in Jesus’ inner circle, summarized Jesus’ earthly ministry. He said Jesus went around doing good and healing those under the devil’s power (Acts 10:38). If we imitate Jesus, we will make a positive difference in others’ lives.
Let’s look at a few of the ways Jesus helped people around Him.
- Jesus reached out to the overlooked. He recruited uneducated fishermen (Acts 4:13 and Matthew 4:18–19), a tax collector—generally a despised profession in those times (Matthew 9:9–13), and a backstabbing thief (Matthew 10:4 and John 12:4–6) as His special students. These are not the type of students other rabbis would have been eager to accept. Jesus not only accepted them; He also sought them out.
- Jesus healed physical diseases and sicknesses. Wherever He traveled, He healed. In fact, He healed so many people that news of Him spread through the surrounding regions (Matthew 4:23–25 and Matthew 15:31).
- Jesus forgave sins (Matthew 9:4–7).
- Jesus shared His knowledge of God’s ways (Matthew 5:1–7:29). He preached, taught, and explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:27).
- Jesus met physical needs. He multiplied a small lunch so it would feed thousands of hungry people (Matthew 14:15–21 and Matthew 15:32–38).
- Jesus calmed fears. He didn’t offer empty promises, but He did speak the truth, which calmed the fears of others (Matthew 14: 25–33 and Luke 24:37–39).
- Jesus offered His unending presence (Matthew 28:20). He promised to always be near the very ones who had abandoned Him during His greatest time of trial (Matthew 26:56).
- Jesus grieved with mourners. Even though He knew Lazarus would rise back to life, He was moved by Mary’s tears. He Himself wept (John 11:11–35).
- Jesus prayed for His followers (John 17:6–26).
- Jesus provided a model for others to imitate (John 13:12–17). Before asking His followers to serve others, He humbled Himself to serve them.
Self-Control and Making a Difference
Sometimes I think of Jesus as a superhero without a weakness. But it can’t have been easy for Him to do all this good, especially for those who did not appreciate His generosity.
Even when Jesus was tired, people sought Him out. He had to have been truly exhausted to sleep through a violent squall that terrified seasoned fishermen. On several occasions, we read how His plans were interrupted or disregarded.
But Jesus did all this good, thereby making a difference in many lives, because He exercised self-control. He learned to give up one thing in order to gain something even better.
God’s Plan for Us
I do believe God has specific plans for all His children. But sometimes we focus so much on those details that we miss the bigger picture. Despite our individual circumstances, God has one grand plan for all His children to make a difference in the world.
It’s the very same plan Jesus followed. We give up our own desires to gain something even better.