There is a famous preacher joke that ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people. It’s a pretty funny joke because it has quite a bit of truth. If we are honest, we all feel that way about people sometimes. Life would be great if it weren’t for people. People can be demanding, fickle, flaky, selfish, have unreasonable expectations, and yet as challenging as they can be, Jesus came to die for imperfect people. Why?
Because Jesus loves people. And He doesn’t just love perfect people. Jesus loves everyone; especially difficult people. When I read the gospels, the part of Jesus’s ministry that both amazes and challenges me the most is the way Jesus could see the gold inside of messed up, imperfect people. Jesus’s ability to see the gold and call it forth is what transformed these imperfect people and help them walk in their destiny.
One of my favorite examples of this is Simon Peter. Look at Matthew 16:17-18:
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Immediately following Simon’s declaration of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. Theologians tell us that the name Simon can mean shifting sand or unstable. This is a picture of how Peter was when he met Jesus. He was rash, reckless, unstable, and usually saying and doing the wrong thing. He didn’t look like anybody you would pick to be a foundational piece of a major organization.
When Jesus chose Simon, He was aware of His instability, He just didn’t focus on it. Jesus focused on Simon’s leadership qualities that needed to be nurtured. These were Simon’s authenticity and passion. He then called forth Simon’s destiny when He changed Simon’s name to Peter. Peter comes from the Greek word pétros which means a piece of rock. Rocks are different than sand because they are stable.
When Jesus changed Simon’s name, He was literally saying “You who have been unstable, you are now a piece of rock, a chip off the big rock, which is Me. You are now remade in my image and you are stable. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The minute we accept Christ, we become a brand new creation. Old things have passed away and we have become new. We are now remade in the image of Christ. We are a chip off the old block. This is true for us and this is true for the difficult people in our lives too.
The way we deal with difficult, challenging, flaky people is by calling forth their prophetic destiny. We need to see them like Jesus sees them and begin to say about them what Jesus is saying about them. Jesus has a plan and purpose for each person He ever created. He has put gifts and talents inside of everyone. There is gold in all of us and and it is our responsibility to mine for the gold that is in difficult people.
I do need to make a point that if a person is unsaved, we need to pray for their salvation. Jesus puts gifts and talents in unsaved people, but, the fullness of those gifts won’t be realized until they become a new creation spiritually. We don’t need to see unsaved people as less than, we just need to see them as pre-Christians. Jesus’s plan has always been for them to be in Christ and we need to treat them with the same honor and respect with which Jesus treats them. When we honor the gold placed in the life of the unbeliever, it will move their heart with God’s goodness and the goodness of God will lead them to repentance.
One of the reasons Jesus puts difficult people in our lives is so we can love them the way He does and speak over them what He is saying so that difficult person can become all they were destined to be. Let’s begin to spend time in the presence of God and allow Jesus’s perspective transform ours so we can see the gold inside of difficult people. Let’s mine for the gold!
If you’d like to learn more check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church.