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16 June 2012

Where's Jesus?

I'm surprised and feel a little silly that I never caught the connection between these passages before. Notice the phrases I've emphasized.

Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
John 12:26, NLT

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:34-40, NLT



If we want to be disciples and servants of Jesus, we have to be where He is. Sometimes that "place" is not a mysterious destination we have to agonize about, asking God if this or that is what He'd have us to do. Often it's right in front of us.

In a very straightforward manner, Jesus told us just a few of the places we can find Him. Are we there?

You can stop reading here if you'd like, and jump right to criticizing me for espousing some kind of exclusively social gospel. However, this was written to expound on one small aspect of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ, not to say it encompasses everything. Read further for bonus content! These thoughts and clarifications came out of a discussion of the topic via e-mail with a friend.

My friend asked, "So we find Jesus where believers are, right? In these passages then, is Jesus talking about helping only less fortunate Christians? How do you find Jesus among non-believers?" My response was something like this (with a few edits for clarity):

"We find Jesus where believers are..." That's obviously a true statement, but keeping Scripture in mind (like the passage above, Matthew 25, for instance), "Jesus is not among non-believers" may not necessarily be a true statement. When Jesus is talking in the Matthew 25 passages, the believers He was talking about were the ones He was talking to. He never mentioned whether the hungry, poor, etc., were believers. That apparently didn't matter. That is, we're never told in Scripture to screen someone to determine if they're worthy of our help -- if they're a believer, etc. We're never told the spiritual status of the guy in the ditch that the Good Samaritan helped, for example. He was just "a man."

And then there's a different perspective making a similar point: the Church is the body of Christ; He is the head. ("We find Jesus among believers.") However, Jesus put Himself among non-believers as a regular habit when He was physically on earth. Eating with tax-collecting scum, defending a sexually promicuous woman who was not a believer, doing things that got Him labeled by the religious elite as a drunkard and a glutton. ("We find Jesus among non-believers.") Therefore, one way we find Jesus among non-believers is for us (believers) to be where non-believers are.

Again, Jesus told us and showed us just a few of the places we can find Him. Are we there?

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