When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:1-5, NLT).
If you grew up attending Sunday School, this story from Mark 2 is a familiar one. I used this text a couple of weeks ago as our staff and volunteer leaders unveiled our fall schedule and programming. I reminded our congregation that programs don’t reach people, people reach people. From Mark 2, I offer four characteristics of those who reach out to others.
1. Those who reach out have a spirit of cooperation.
I suppose one friend could have carried the paralyzed man to Jesus, but in the story four came together to get their friend to Christ. There was no discernible leader and we don’t know how they came together. The spirit of cooperation was and is fueled by the big picture: get him to Christ!
2. Those who reach out are deeply committed.
They literally carried him to Christ. It takes a lot of commitment to help people discover Christ, and that commitment involves effort, time, and possibly even material resources.
3. Those who reach out utilize creativity.
My favorite part of the story is the creativity the team used to solve problems and overcome obstacles. When they arrived, the house was packed. The doors were blocked, the windows were blocked, and apparently no one was willing to step aside. When there was no room they made room by tearing a hole in the roof. People who reach out to people will testify that the road to Christ is seldom easy. There are obstacles and challenges that have to be creatively overcome.
4. Those who reach out possess the faith that Christ is in the business of changing lives.
Verse 5 says that Jesus responded to “their” (plural) faith. My question at this point is, “Why did they believe?” Had they heard stories from others? Had they seen Christ perform some healing elsewhere? We don’t know, but I’d like to think the reason their faith was so strong was because of their own personal experience with Christ. Those who are most motivated to reach out are those who reach out based on their personal experience.