Jesus befriended people regardless of their class, gender, or religion, whether esteemed or despised by society. One of his closest disciples had worked as a detested tax collector. Another was an ex-supporter of the radical Zealot movement. While devout Jewish men began their day thanking God they had not been born “a slave, a Gentile, or a woman,” (Menahoth 43b-44a) Jesus valued all three and incorporated them into his wide circle of friends and followers. On one embarrassing occasion, a woman of low reputation entered uninvited into a dinner party and washed Jesus’ feet with costly perfume intermingled with her tears. When the men reclining at the table watched in horror as Jesus did nothing to reprimand the woman, they rebuked the woman harshly (Matthew 26:6-13). Here and elsewhere, Jesus welcomed and extended grace to the lowly.
The Jewish leaders of the day believed God showed partiality to his “holy people,” thereby excluding anyone outside the Jewish faith. These leaders often times robbed women, tax collectors, and lepers of their inherent dignity as human beings. Jesus entered the Jewish culture of the day and spoke against its harsh treatment of outsiders. He walked as a human resources manager, intent on providing life-changing direction to a culture stripped of grace.
Jesus did not ignore people’s sin and weaknesses, but saw people through them so they could be free of sin’s weight and condemnation. He took the hand of those suffering from guilt and shame and pulled them from the mire. Upon hearing Jesus’ words of forgiveness, Zacchaeus left his crooked tax-collecting business and declared: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” (Luke 19:8). Jesus’ compassion likewise freed Mary Magdalene from demons; cleansed lepers from their diseases; restored sight to the blind; and beckoned Mary to rest in the midst of her busy schedule and listen at his feet. Even in extreme cases of condemnation, as with the woman caught in an adulterous affair, Jesus’ words to her were, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48).
Companies today have taken up the cause of the less fortunate by donating portions of their profit to charities or pioneering humanitarian programs among the homeless, drug addicts, AIDS victims, and the unemployed. A keen student of management may look upon these great works and assume the human resource philosophy set on improving people has its roots in modern times. However, this has been a practice long advocated by Jesus Christ. God sent him for the very purpose of making people whole:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).