As I read through the Gospels, I am struck by the fact that Jesus Himself didn’t use formulas. He didn’t oversimplify things and He didn’t hand out tracts. Instead, He talked with people, and as He did, He tailored each conversation to meet that individual at their greatest point of need. With one, He discussed living water; with another, the need to be born again. He asked some to give up everything they had. From others, He asked only for a bite to eat. Sometimes He declared God’s favor. At other times, He used harsh and terrifying words. Jesus didn’t proclaim a pre-packaged McGospel from the value menu that could be reproduced in every culture and speak to every person’s heart in exactly the same way.
Paying special attention to the interactions Jesus had with individuals then can be incredibly helpful today. These conversations show us how Jesus related to people just like us; how He saw through the outer appearance and spoke to the person’s unique situation. Without preconditions, Jesus talked with people right where they were. In that intensely religious, traditional Jewish culture, with all its laws and proscriptions and penalties, certain people were to be avoided. But for Jesus, there was no sin too black, no shame too grievous, to keep Him from sharing the message of hope with someone in need
But here is the incredible thing: This hasn’t changed in two thousand years. God still wants to talk individually with those who desire to know Him. He knows your greatest struggles and He knows mine. He knows our greatest weaknesses; He knows our worst sins … and still He longs to speak words of reconciliation into our lives. These words are the very heart of the gospel itself.
Jesus did not come with bumper stickers or sound bites or with His message scrawled across a giant ornamental cross on the highway. The people He came to save could not be helped with fast-food religion. God made each of us a unique and special creation, and as such we each have our own issues and baggage, our own future to walk through, and our own responses to this fallen world. That is where Jesus wants to meet us—at the deepest point of our greatest need. (John Greco, Relevant Magazine. This article is excerpted from The Jesus Sessions: Getting Beyond the Bumper-Sticker Gospel The Wild Olive Press, 2010. Used by permission.)