Word for Wednesday... Where They Are
Jesus did a lot of things within His three years of ministry on this earth. He performed miracles, taught powerful sermons, and challenged the religious authorities of His time. You may be able to recall many of these moments off the top of your head. These interactions that took place not only changed the world that Jesus lived in at the time, but continue to shape our world today. In fact, these actions shape us. Our very being is radically changed by the actions Jesus took here on this earth. Perhaps you heard sermon on a miracle that Jesus performed and it forever changed the way that you perceived the relationship between God and yourself. You may have even had the Holy Spirit speak to you in a life altering way while you read through the things that Jesus did on this earth. Regardless of what it is, there is something distinct about the way that Jesus walked this earth.
We could point to a number of things that defined Jesus’ time on this earth. The way He felt compassion, the way He demonstrated love to others, the balance of truth and grace in His words, and even His servant’s heart are all things that defined Jesus while He walked on this earth. However, while all those things are incredible there is one element that almost every single action of Jesus has in common. It’s more simple, yet profound than we realize. Think about your favorite miracles, sermons, or conversations that Jesus had with others. Now think about where they took place. Where was Jesus physically at during that time? If you were thinking of anywhere except within the church, then chances are that you are correct. Over 90% of Jesus’ interactions occurred outside of the synagogue. The synagogue was their equivalent to the modern day church. Jesus didn’t wait for people to show up to church. He intentionally went out of His way to meet people where they were. All of the most powerful and memorable interactions took place in a location unique to the person Jesus met. He even became the exact person they needed in that time and moment. The Samaritan woman at the well, the thief on the cross, and many others had their lives changed forever and they weren’t anywhere near a pew. As much as it pains leaders in the church who spend hours on crafting sermons, the reality is that much more of life occurs outside of the church than in it.
This observation isn’t something that we can extrapolate from a single verse or passage of scripture, but rather something that we see when take a step back from the intense details in each and ever encounter of Jesus. This desire to meet people exactly were they are is vital to the success of the church. Even the Apostle Paul knew that it was important to imitate this missional attitude of Christ. Listen to Paul’s words as he physically travels as far and wide to establish churches in the ancient world:
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
If we want to be an effective church then we have to meet people where they are. We must go where they are. We must be who they need us to be. In order to win others for Christ, we need to be like Christ—taking hold of every opportunity to reach others exactly where they are.
– Pastor Phil