Then Jesus came near… Matthew 28:18
What would it look like for you and me to follow Jesus? In what ways, can you empty yourself of your time, emotional energy, and material possessions to serve others and give glory to God?
Like when you are in an argument, and you decide to let the other person get the last word—like Jesus did before Herod and Pilate. That is when you are following the humble King down into greatness.
How about when you are tempted to walk down another aisle at your local grocery rather than come face-to-face with a person who has harmed you and you meet them in the produce section and say, “Hi” and give them a hug? That is a person who is following Jesus down as he loves God and serves others.
Perhaps instead of holding onto your loneliness like a security blanket, you seek out others that are lonely and at every opportunity, you get to make them feel as if you have been waiting all day to see them.
About nine years ago while we were living in the Seattle area, I was going through a difficult time and our church was really struggling. A man in our church invited me to get a coffee with him. And so, I met him at a coffee house and after shaking hands, we took our seats.
“How are you doing today, pastor?” he asked.
“I’m doing Okay, Gene,” I said.
“You seemed a little discouraged last Sunday,” he said.
“Yeah, no pastor spends hours preparing a sermon only to preach it to more chairs than the people he loves.”
“It was a good sermon, pastor. I needed to hear it,” he said.
Then for the next hour, we talked about the stuff of life.
Gene was about ten years older than me, maybe more than ten years. He had a shock of white hair, and a soft and smooth face, and spoke with a deep and warm Texas drawl. He laughed often and deeply. There was no posing, no pretense—just the simple, quiet presence of a good man.
We didn’t talk about politics, theology, or literature. We skipped from topic to topic in a random and ricocheted way and told each other stories from our lives.
That day, in that coffee shop, I needed an old soul to sit with me for a while.
Later that evening I mentioned to Lynette about the coffee and said how encouraging it was to me.
“What did he say that picked up your spirits?” she asked.
“Actually, nothing,” I said.
Gene didn’t try to cheer me up. He didn’t give me plucky platitudes. He didn’t quote scripture to me. He didn’t even buy my coffee! I’ll tell you what he gave me. He gave me his presence and his time. And that made all the difference. A small grace of the presence of Christ through the voice and skin of a Texan named Gene Smith.
I’m sure Gene would not remember that coffee, but I do. And now you know about it. Never underestimate the grace of your presence. You don’t have to fix anything. Let the presence of the lord of Lords seep out of your soul into the sacred space between you and someone who is hurting.
Spend some time with this ancient poem by Symeon the New Theologian,
We Awaken in Christ’s Body
We awaken in Christ’s body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ, He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.
I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly
whole, seamless in His Godhood).
I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? — Then
open your heart to Him
and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ’s body
where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,
and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed
and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
he awakens as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.
That’s how Jesus comes near, and how He touches this world…through you. So, who needs a cup of coffee with you?
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Phill 2:5
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