I'm sitting here reading over The Shack by Wm. Paul Young for the umpteenth time tonight and seeing it in a way that I have never before. It has taken me back to a few weeks ago when Trenton, Paul and I went on a prayer hike and practiced silence. I talked to God that day, and He talked back. A new experience for me.
I felt Him telling me how to relate to this city I love so much: Portland. I felt Him saying that echoes of His glory are everywhere if we but allow Him to open our eyes to see Him working in those around us. I think about what Portland means to me, how people here are nothing if not passionate. Passionate about a lot of things that are close to the heart of God: social justice, environmentalism, philanthropy, humanitarianism... All of these things are a part of the heart of God as evidenced throughout Scripture. All of them are Jesus in people, whether they recognize it or not. These are ways that Jesus in them is manifest. Places where we, as followers of Christ, can share passion with them. Places where the Jesus in us can come forth, see that Jesus in them, and ask “How ya doin’, Jesus?”
In this way, by joining people where they are, in the parts of them that are most sensitive to the heart of God, we can speak life into them and see them transformed by first that aspect of Jesus in them, and then full, complete Jesus in them.
This challenges me to continually embrace the indwelling of Jesus in me and allow Him to move in me more freely to the point of utter unity (check out John 15, I feel like we’re actually invited into the same community as our amazing God shares through the Trinity). If anybody is guilty of being ashamed of the Gospel, I have been. Out of fear, I will often build a friendship based on the objective, scientific parts of my personality before I reveal the most important part of who I am: a follower of Christ. How terribly cowardly.
I cannot abide cowardice. Cowardice is what prohibits boys and girls from becoming men and women. Terrified of others, they go through life but never truly live, never love. They may never feel pain or rejection, but neither do they feel true Love or acceptance. All because they will not risk to offer freely of themselves and find themselves in Christ. When we can do this, we truly live. This will imbue us with the boldness necessary to truly love, to take risks, and to truly live.
All that being said, let’s try to embrace life and shed the blindness of mediocrity. Let’s cast off the cloaks that hide us, keep us from feeling, and “protect us” from all of the wondrous life there is to live. Let’s embrace who we are in Christ and let that Jesus in us out to meet the Jesus in others.
Jon “Bear” Dempster