Invitation to “Be With” in a Real Way

Thoughts from Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson (Chapter 2: God with Us).

I’m still working through this concept of “being with” as Jesus was. When we read scripture, we repeatedly see examples of him meeting people where they are in life, including their needs, burdens, and concerns, and he has just the right response. The book references the kairos or right and opportune moment. Think about this for a moment. I think we as Christians may get this wrong more often than we think.

Jan Johnson has some wonderful insight into the way Jesus encountered each person. Let’s glean a little from the larger picture she outlines in Invitation to the Jesus Life (Chapter 2: God with Us). She writes, “As we embrace and teach the relational message of Jesus, we need to embrace the relational methods of Jesus” (footnoting Chuck Miller, p. 32). Think about this a bit. The message without the matching methods is potentially problematic. True, we are going to have challenges in matching the character and methods of Jesus due to the human nature we have in us, but we also have the Spirit of God! We can choose Jesus’ methods, given what we’re told about the gift we’ve been given in the persons of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Luke 11:13; 12:12
John 14:15, 26; 16:5
Acts 2:38
Romans 5:5; 15:13; 8:1,2
1 Corinthians 15:57
Philippians 3:9
1 Thessalonians 1:6
Hebrews 10:15-25

We could be searching for evidence of the gift of strength, courage, integrity, knowledge, and wisdom we’ve been given as followers of Christ for a long time. There is so much more than what I’ve listed here. The point I was hoping to see in this was that we don’t have to do things the way other people do. We’ve been given an amazing gift to walk in the ways of the Father at the moment we desired to submit our life to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins and let him lead us in our daily choices, large or small.

So, Jesus’ methods are listed in the Jesus Life. How does this impact us? (See page 32.)

“People and their stories mattered to Jesus” (p.33).

I want to put out a challenge at this point. You’ll love it, or not.

In our everyday encounters with others, what are the priorities? Is it the person or a list of priorities, principles, or policies? Does the person’s story overshadow the focus on the sin (at least in the initial hearing)? Can you hear their need clearly over your need to find a solution? Have you sat with them, actively listened to them, remembered their name for later? In the right place, time, and calling, would you look them in the eye or gently touch their hand in sympathy or empathy–even if they were a little messy on the inside and unkempt on the outside?

My biggest challenge in “being with” as Jesus was is time. In our hurried and harried schedules, we like things quick and easy. We prefer things neatly ordered…tied up with a big, red bow. If we can leap-frog to the solution more quickly, then that’s the ticket! Or, is it? I’m not sure I can count the times I’ve leaped to “solution mode” before hearing the whole story…including the hurts, hindrances, and requests for specific help! I’ve even interrupted. (Ugh.)

To “be with” is uniquely and individually personal! It is so “in the moment” that you are able to hear both the story of person speaking and the person of the Holy Spirit whispering your place and purpose in that moment. To “be with” is holding back that urge to move on in your schedule until you know that’s what you are to do. It resists the urge to tell the person to move on until you’ve been told to do so.

In light of Romans 12:15, I think a pause might be necessary.

Now, a certain someone I know is “in the moment” regularly with the needs of the people in a large multi-site church. The flip side of this is about time management, and I’m not going there now. For now, it’s being in this moment with the above thoughts.

Blessings!

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2 Responses to “Invitation to “Be With” in a Real Way”

  1. heatherdnelson679 Says:

    Your comment on my blog led me to yours – great thoughts here! I’ll definitely be returning. Related to this post, I would recommend Paul Miller’s book “Love Walked Among Us” as a good read that examines how Jesus met people with love – and our calling as Christians to do the same.

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