And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
On Sunday, Connie and I go to a very small Methodist church. It is part of our Sunday ritual. There are bigger churches in the area, certainly with more than twenty or thirty attendees at our church. These larger churches have lavish interiors, powerful music, and far more resources. But this is our church, and we both feel the presence of God when we enter on Sunday.
The pastor of our church is a very compassionate and unassuming woman. When she delivers her sermon, she is always very crisp, and her research is thorough. I know this type of pastor. When she was at seminary, I am sure she got all A’s. She probably was the one who greeted everyone with a smile and dutifully did her homework. Likely, she was never the leader, just a competent student who took her studies very seriously.
Her goals in life are being a good pastor for her flock and raising a healthy family. Likely she will stay a pastor for these smaller churches. She doesn’t have the outward desire to be powerful; instead, she desires to do her best every Sunday for her flock.
But each week, she brings forth something that changes or helps me think through my ministry to the business world differently. Many times making we wonder ‘why hadn’t I thought or found her insight before.’
This past Sunday, her verse (Mark [6:56]) mentions that Jesus healed the sickly in the marketplace. As soon as I heard this, I knew this was one of the missing links in helping people see Jesus was a marketplace minister.
Previously to support my theory, I had scoured scholarly writings throughout the world. Discovering writings to support my hypothesis in interesting places, like Bible commentaries from centuries ago. I even found scholarly essays in Australia to support my viewpoint. I have studied ancient Hebrew and Greek to dissect words. And certainly used Matthew Henry’s commentaries from the 17th century to find answers.
But here is this one simple verse, which was always there for me to see; I discovered the connection of non-circumstantial evidence; Jesus did some of his best work in the marketplace. It was as if my pastor was talking directly to me and telling me this is the important clue you have been seeking.
The verse, Mark [6:56], explains that people brought the sickly from the local villages and towns to their marketplace to be healed by Jesus. To make sure I wasn’t delusional, I went to my library of commentaries once again to see if I could confirm I was right. In doing this research, I discovered John Albert Bengel (1687-1752), the father of modern Biblical scholarship, who explained why. He explained if you wanted to meet someone very important in the first century, you went to the marketplace. It was the center of not only commerce but where people congregated. Certainly, Jesus as well would be where most of the people gathered.
For us in the twentieth century, it would be hard to think Jesus would be on Wall Street, at a shopping mall, or any of our other commercial gathering spots. But in the 1st century, places of commerce were gathering spots.
If you wanted to trade or sell products you had or made. The marketplace was where you went—a kind of clearinghouse or place for the everyday citizen. The reality was, giant corporations didn’t exist. Instead, commerce was done at the local and individual levels in a central place in every town.
If you wanted to buy bread, candy, jewelry, or household products, you went to the town’s marketplace. It is likely that most days of the week, you physically had to go. There were no Amazon Prime delivery trucks, just good old fashion commerce by walking around.
Naturally, as a former carpenter, Jesus had been there many times. And certainly, Jesus would know to go there to carry out his earthly ministerial mission for God. While some of Jesus’ ministry was completed in the local temples, it was often in the streets surrounding the central marketplace. Jesus was the original Street Minster. And not only that, he did his best work in the marketplace.
Jesus went where the people were, as he does today. On any Sunday, statistically, half the people in any church have to be at work by [8:15] the following day. This is a missing piece of understanding by the church today. So maybe we should take Jesus’ lead and meet people where they are. Jesus is already there In the marketplace and waiting to help all who work. Jesus is even on Zoom!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, or simply Colossians, is the twelfth book of the New testament. Likely written sometime between 55AD and 60AD, while the Apostle Paul sat in a Roman prison. Colossians is one of four letters Paul wrote while held as a prisoner. The other three are; Ephesians, Philemon, and Philippians. They are called as a group the Prison Epistles. Even in prison, Paul continued to write to many of the churches he started during his three missionary journeys.
The letter to the Colossians was written to get these churches back on track in serving only Christ. But, unfortunately, it seems they had started taking shortcuts in their practices and introduced pagan rituals in worship services. One verse that hit home for me was in chapter 3, verse 23, which says, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. While a reminder not to take shortcuts in our relationship with Jesus or religious practices, it is also a reminder of how we conduct ourselves when we work.
Paul is reminding us to work heartily and with quality in all that we do. And there is no better reminder than to always work with all your heart as if we are working for the Lord. Wow, imagine the change in our efforts if we know whatever we do, we do for Jesus. This thought would undoubtedly make each effort we put into work more meaningful. So while this message was essential to the Colossians two thousand years ago, it is just as relevant today.
As I was sitting one morning thinking about this message from Paul, it made me think about my brother-in-law Ken and my wife Connie, putting up a picture gallery of our relatives in our new home. There was a blank wall in one of the hallways that seemed to them to be a great place to put up pictures of our grandparents, our parents when they were younger, and even great-grandparents—a wonderful reminder of our roots.
After visiting Lowes to get all the required material, Connie and Ken looked at the wall and discussed how to make the placements mean something and in what order. Then they began the laborious effort of measuring and rethinking each placement. Next, they carefully prepared each picture to be hung. A process that required exact precision to ensure each image hung evenly. I noticed how much time was spent preparing and thinking before they hung the pictures while wondering if I would have the same patience.
Soon, they began hanging each picture while continuing to debate, measure, and assess each placement. This was no haphazard effort. So much thought went into each step; no shortcuts! I enjoyed listening to the banter and discussion, and it allowed me to feel the quality of their efforts.
Then they proudly announced it was done. Both looking at their work, satisfied each picture hung properly. When I walked around the corner to see the gallery, I was stunned! Not just at the quality of the work, but seeing how the quality of preparation showed itself in the results. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about with work as if working for the Lord.
While this is a simple story, it is a reminder to be patient in our work. Not just do something to get it done, but to do it well. Sure it might seem it takes longer, but in actuality, it is a shorter and more sustainable effort.
Sometimes, we might hurry to get something done only to be met with having to redo our work or end up with shoddy work. It is human nature to want to complete our to-do lists quickly. But Paul is telling us not to be expedient, instead to work as if working for the Lord.
I can only imagine if a workplace had this mindset, what wonderful products would be produced. The decisions that would be made would always represent high Christian ethics, and customers would always be happy—by simply taking the time to work as if Jesus is standing next to us.
He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.
When Ryan first came into my office eight years ago, I noticed something different about him. He was unusually polite and used words like; yes sir and thank you. He listened intently and would wait to insert his opinion politely. Quickly the conversation became a mutual exchange of ideas and methods.
I had spotted him during my tours through his department and wondered about his skills. The visit to my office was for me to find out more about him, by giving him a project. We reviewed the project requirements and together established a timeline with expected outcomes.
Before the project deadline, Ryan came into my office with his completed project, which also included extra materials. There were no mistakes in his work. He delivered his work earlier than expected with additional value.
Naturally, I gave him more work with increasing responsibility and freedom. Again, he consistently exceeded expectations.
As time went on, I got to know Ryan better. At twenty-five, he had earned his pilot’s license. In fact, he was a flight instructor at a small local airport. He had graduated from college with honors. A quiet person who read the room well and spoke when it was his time. Never insistent he was heard, but always clear with his facts.
As time wore on, I tried to have lunch with Ryan periodically. Primarily to offer him my help and learn more about him. I heard the dreams about his life and his pending marriage to his girlfriend. I learned his parents and grandparents were influential in his life. He spoke about his family with pride. Ryan is a person who was grateful for what he has and not one to pick at slights in his life. He is a hopeful person.
During these conversations, I started to sense he had another mission in life other than being a business person. Aviation was his passion. When he talked about aviation, this subdued person became animated.
He had been dutiful in following his parents’ lead to pursue a career in business. And he was good at business. But the business world wasn’t his passion.
At one point, I asked him what did he really want to do in his life? Stumbling with his words, he told me he always to be a pilot for a national airline. He wanted to fly people around the country. He loved flying and all the electronics associated with aviation. Flying was his real passion.
We discussed this, and I told him, follow your passion. Knowing that passion produces excellence and joy in life. He was surprised I told him this, assuming I would try to talk him out of becoming a pilot. It was his dream, not mine.
Ryan did leave the company to become a pilot. At first, he was a trainee and flew prop planes. Later rising up to being a regional co-pilot flying Jets. He moved from the area he grew up in to be closer to his work.
I remember the day he called with pride to tell me he was now a pilot for a small regional airline and no longer the co-pilot. As time wore on, I wondered how he was doing. His name would come up here and there. But like all of us, our life’s paths cross here and there. Ryan was very supportive of my books and has bought everyone. He always gave me feedback on what he thought about my books.
I don’t hear from Ryan every day or even every month. Maybe once or twice a year. When we talked, it became a time to connect the events from the last time we spoke. Sometimes he needed a reference, which I always eagerly provided.
Then the day came; he was about to be given the pilot job he always wanted. He was being considered to be a pilot for a national airline. He texted me to see if I could be his reference. And of course, I said yes. My reference was only needed for the airline to verify everything they already knew about Ryan,
Over the last eight years, Ryan had shared his life with me. I knew what he wanted in his life. I knew when Ryan was disappointed and when he was excited. But on this day, his dream was coming true, and he needed one more phone call from me.
Ryan hadn’t called just once over the years, but frequently enough for me to know about and watch his life. So when the final request came in, I eagerly helped.
Unwittingly, Ryan exhibited the real process of networking. Ryan didn’t set out with a plan to call me in exactly eight years and ask for a reference. Instead, he mutually involved me in his life—a relationship where there is both receiving and giving.
When I speak to students on college campuses and talk about networking, I always tell them networking is a lifelong activity with a genuine effort to be mutual. Nurturing these relationships is vital to them having a solid network.
In my career counseling work, where I help people find a new job, those with strong networks have an easier time. The statistics bear this out. At the professional level, sixty to eighty percent of all jobs are found through a person’s network.
People love to help out people that have been positive and trustworthy associates. A person’s network contains people who are like bumblebees that spread the pollen of a person’s ability throughout the business and professional world.
Even Jesus used his network to obtain what he needed during his three-year ministry on earth. On His last trip to Jerusalem, he needed a room to have one last supper with his disciples. Jesus sent the two Apostles Peter and John, ahead to secure a place for this supper. Jesus sent the two men to a man he knew from the past and told Peter and John. He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there. (Luke [22:12])
On the surface, this may seem a little odd for Jesus to assume someone would give Him a room. The owner was someone Jesus had met and helped in the past. Who was now more than willing to return the favor.
So while this could be viewed as a supernatural event, it still contains the value of networking. Jesus spent considerable time during His ministry on earth building social networks. All done through mutual relationships, which included the two most important factors of networking, giving and receiving.
Networks are built over a lifetime and always need to be nurtured. I know I am not the only one Ryan stayed in touch. He has other friends as well, some of who I know. Ryan will undoubtedly continue to be a great pilot, and he will need help from time to time. He will also, from time to time, help others. We, who know Ryan, know this.
And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.
1st Corinthians [13:13]
Within Catholic theology, there are three theological virtues; Faith, Hope, and Love. These virtues are considered divine and are gifts freely bestowed upon all of us through the grace of God. I recently discussed these three virtues with a Catholic friend and their impact on our perspective on life. He informed me that for Catholics, these three are holy virtues. Thus, sending me to research how and why these three virtues are considered sacred.
As a Methodist most of my adult life, this might seem odd to my fellow Methodists to study Catholicism. However, It really isn’t; as Methodists, one of our fundamental tenets is to explore God all we can. So with that thought in mind, I wanted to learn more.
It seems that Thomas Aquinas developed this thought, using 1 Corinthians [13:13], where it says, And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love. Aquinas explains that these three theological virtues are infused in us by God. Further, we come to know these virtues through our interactions with God. In effect, our choice to activate these virtues puts us in concert with God.
It seems to me that a life without Faith, Hope, and Love would be a dark and dreary existence. A life of depression without any sunrise on the horizon and the absence of Jesus. Yet, I know people who lead this life. They are not entirely devoid of these three qualities; instead, they tend to see darkness and not light. For some, this perspective is a habit. For others, it was caused by an underlying set of events that causes sustained grief. And even sometimes caused by their environment.
While not all causes of leading a dreary life can be remedied without outside help, most can. Simply choosing to redirect our thinking to Jesus and these God-given virtues will fix and help our perspective on life.
For instance, Faith is belief in the unseen. We completely surrender ourselves to following Jesus, even when it’s not explicitly apparent our faith will help. A mindset of not being overly pragmatic about outcomes and changing our perspective from knowing tangibly and precisely what the future holds to being reassured that somehow Jesus is involved.
Hope is simply knowing good will occur because Jesus exists in our lives. The opposite of Hope is despair. A state where nothing seems to go right. Like Faith, Hope is also a matter of perspective. We can choose to follow the course of hopelessness or believe the valley we are in will eventually end. Many times difficult trials are periods of divine preparation. A time of our growing and becoming prepared for our next challenge. The more we meet these challenges, the greater our growth. In turn, we don’t see the valleys of life despondently but as opportunities to rise up through a hopeful perspective.
The Apostle Paul declares the greatest of the three virtues is Love. Love is a choice we make, and all have the capacity to love through the grace of God. When we do things without Love, we miss opportunities to lift up other people. Our acts, while honorable, have less value. Love is an act of giving without the desire for a reward: a conscious act to desire a benefit for the other person. Any action done with love is aligned with Jesus.
Perspective is a matter of our free will. We all can choose to embrace, Faith, Hope, and Love. When we do, we open our hearts to Jesus and activate these three gifts from God. Instead of thorns, we will see roses. Life will become lighter. For some, this is a mighty challenge because of life circumstances. But for most of us, it is simply a matter of redirecting our thoughts to see good and trust Jesus.
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