God's Word: Live It!

The Jesus in all of us

Yesterday, we eavesdropped on an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. We learned that Jesus was not only breaking serious social mores by speaking with her (gender and religious as well as social) but he was seeking a new disciple. She is a woman, who through no fault of her own, has been rejected in marriage multiple times. She represents those who are cast aside, ignored for reasons beyond their control such as race, religion, gender, culture, disabilities, human beings often not treated equally and completely ignored. 

This does not work for Jesus. He is in the world to save the world and by world he means exactly that. He considers everyone a child of his Father and everyone gets noticed by him. Women, widows, orphans, disabled, possessed, poor, rich, foreigners, everybody. That, thank God, includes us as well. We are all different, we all have sins, we all have secrets. We’ve hurt and we’ve been hurt. We lie and we’ve been lied to and lied about. We are united in our brokenness and our need for Jesus’ healing touch. 

Jesus didn’t talk about making disciples, he showed us how. It is a matter of engaging and lifting up the humanity in the people we encounter. It means getting to know the name of the mentally challenged bagger at the grocery store and thanking them by name. It means dropping a couple of quarters into the Styrofoam cups held in the crusty hands of the homeless and then giving them a blessing and saying a prayer for them as we drive away. There is Jesus in all of us and there is enough of him to spread around. Be on the lookout for someone who needs to hear his name and encounter him through you. Your voice, your touch, sharing your pain or taking some of theirs. Jesus hints they may not look like us “for Samaritans and Jews had nothing in common” and that is precisely the time to bring the love. Go forth. Someone needs the Jesus in you.

It’s a matter of trust

Yesterday we observed a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus wanted to believe in something concrete, Jesus kept pointing him toward trust in God rather than belief that God was present. It may seem like a small difference, this trust instead of belief, but it has large implications for the way we pray, what we expect of God and how we decide to serve. Nicodemus can’t get past the literal. He needs something he can hold in his hands, something written in stone. Instead, Jesus offers up metaphors about rebirth and wind and spirit. At this point in the story, Nicodemus fades away.

We often hunger, wheedle or outright demand concrete signs from God. We struggle with wind and Spirit and being born from above. We want more than a baptismal promise of everlasting life and a Savior who will die for us. It is our nature. It is not easy to live “with the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)  More unsettling, Paul says we “boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love is poured into our hearts …” (Rom. 5:3-4)  This takes enormous trust in God.

This is where trust overrides belief. In what way? When we know we believe in God but do not understand God we have to decide if God knows what God is up to. It is not as simple as saying “there’s a reason for everything” implying there is a divine reason for everything. It is more complicated. It involves saying I don’t have the slightest idea why this is happening and still trusting that God does, that it matters to God and that God stand by us. We often don’t and sometimes never achieve an understanding of particular sufferings, senselessness or dark forces. But we do have the choice to trust that God will guide, love, support, forgive, understand and in the end, resurrect. This is hard to believe, sometimes impossible to believe. These are the times to develop trust. I believe in God, but I struggle to trust God. But when I do, I am relieved of the burden of trying to BE God, a fool’s errand if there ever was one.

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