On Christmas morning I was straightening my hair while I listened to my Christmas playlist, and I began talking to the Lord while I got ready – something I do fairly often. As I listened to song after song about Jesus’ birth, I was doing my best to offer up thanksgiving to Him for willingly leaving his perfect home in heaven to come and live with the people of the world, and ultimately save them, not to mention to make his entrance in the least glamorous way possible. That reality has really hit home for me recently. It’s one of those revelations that makes your head hurt if you think about it too much. Like why on earth would anyone ever do that!? And willingly at that! I was trying to put myself in his shoes (except on a much, much smaller scale, obviously), and consider what I would do if my dad told me to leave Cincinnati and go to Sukabumi, Indonesia (the 2nd furthest city away from Cincinnati according to this website I just looked it up on); to leave my family, my friends, my job, my belongings – everything I ever knew – to simply be with and serve the people of Indonesia. Then once I had been with these people for a little over 3 decades, to be murdered in the most inhumane, humiliating manner possible, all while choosing to extend love toward the people who were against me, ultimately saving their lives because of it; all of this because my dad just knows that my presence with them will have an eternal impact. I played this scenario in my head a few times and shrugged it off. It wasn’t that hard to consider because, let’s be honest, that request is 100% unrealistic, and even if my dad did turn crazy and ask me to do that, I would never even think about going. Not for a second. Because here’s where my mindset was, and if I’m being honest, still sometimes is: I can remain where I am, with what I have, and still pray for, send money to, or aid in some way, shape, or form, the people of Indonesia without actually going to be with them. It’s this way with a lot of things – I can send money to orphans in Kenya and impact their lives without even being there, and I can pray in the privacy of my own home for my friends or coworkers or random strangers I see on the streets, and legitimately impact their lives, but it takes relatively no sacrifice from me. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with helping or praying or doing whatever it is that I feel led to do for someone, there is a much different impact when I choose to actually be with someone. Because to be with a person takes sacrifice on my end – I am using up my time and my energy and whatever else to literally be with whomever I am with.
Jesus did this, and it changed the course of eternity.
God is omnipresent and omnipotent, which means he is literally able to be everywhere at one time and he has all power in all things at all times. He didn’t need to send a newborn Jesus into the world in order to save his people. He could take care of that without even budging from the heavenly realms. He is already for us, which the Bible clearly tells us (Romans 8:31). But God, being God, knew that being for people waned in comparison to the vast impact it would have to send his son to physically be with people. Think about it, Jesus had thousands upon thousands of people following him, doing whatever they could to be with him when he was around. They would outwardly and boldly make fools of themselves in a desperate attempt to get his attention, even if just for a split second, and they would push through crowds of people in hopes to merely brush up against his garments. This man’s presence among these people was powerful. And because of his willingness to give up everything he ever knew, millions of people encountered a living God. And through those encounters, the grace of Christ Jesus has been extended and enveloped around generations upon generations. Millions of people, because of Jesus’ willingness to be with them, are now spending eternity in heaven. It wrecks me when I think about it. The impact of his physical presence changed the course of humanity – of genealogies and families all the way up to the present moment. Essentially, eternity was shaken when Jesus came to simply be with. He was intentional. He listened. He took genuine interest in the people around him. Never rushed. Never too busy. Never unimpressed. Never annoyed. Just willing to sit and be. Wow.
So through this revelation, I am asking the Lord to teach me and grow me in this. Something I already know about myself is this: the love language I receive best is quality time. When I meet someone new, I want to have meaningful conversation in an attempt to genuinely and intentionally get to know that person. I actually crave quality time with people. BUT, I am equally and terrifyingly good at choosing to not be with the people that I don’t want to make an effort for, or that annoy me, or that stress me out, or that bother me, or whatever. I will actually make an effort to not be with those people because it feels inconvenient for me or requires me to be stretched and uncomfortable, rather than crucifying my flesh and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me and change me and renew me. Isn’t it cute (and by cute I mean THE WORST), how we think that we can drive the car and the Holy Spirit can ride shotgun with us? When in reality we should be the passenger while the Spirit is the guide!? It’s so simple, and it’s something that I know and understand whole-heartedly, yet my little blonde brain can’t seem to fully grab ahold of the concept of not being in control all the time.
What I am getting at is this – this year, in 2015, my goal is to be intentional. To be with the people that I encounter rather than simply being for the people I encounter. Believe me, I am for most people that I know and even most people that I don’t know. But what would it look like if I put my being for people into action by being with people? For Jesus, His being with people was an illustration of redemption and grace and forgiveness. And it can look like that for us, too, so that in the end it all comes full circle. We can once again be together in eternity with the one who first chose to be with us that night in the manger.
Will you join me in mirroring Jesus by being with people this year? Let’s shake the course of eternity in the lives we encounter and let’s stomp Satan back into hell simply by loving people and being with them.