If you have been following Greg’s Mark study, you know that this is the overarching theme of Mark’s story. When we study with most people here, we like to start by introducing them to a man they have heard of but many do not know. I have sat through numerous “Who Is Jesus” studies, but just recently, this “I have been a Christian for most of my life and of course I know who Jesus is” girl has been struck in a different light. God has a way with teaching us new things doesn’t he? Not just new things. He has a way of taking parts of the Bible we have read our entire lives and showing them to us in a new way or maybe an old way (we just were always too hard-headed or immature to read them as we should).
If you have talked to me recently, you know I am loving the book that we gave out to some of you during furlough. It is called The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. The author is the president of World Vision International and he has one of the most incredible testimonies I have ever heard. The reason his testimony is so powerful is because I relate to him. He comes from a background of wanting to live the American dream, working very hard to get there, and all at the same time being a good Christian man. You need to read it for yourself, but in this book, he shares his passion for the impoverished of the world. God is using his words to chip away at my heart and transform my callousness to poverty.
He is also using a young lady named Katie that is in her early 20s and lives in Uganda. I discovered Katie’s blog about a year ago, and I have been following the work she does ever since. This girl is incredible. There is no other way to explain her. She is like a modern day Mother Teresa who has sacrificed much to take up her cross and follow her master. She shares on her blog her powerful testimony of making the move to live in Africa and becoming a mother to 13 orphan girls. She doesn’t beat around the bush when she shares specific words that Jesus commanded us to do. Why is it so powerful coming from her? She is living it. She also comes from a close-knit family raised in Brentwood, TN (an hour from my hometown). She left all of that to serve our Lord in a place that many would never venture to go.
So why did I title this “Who Is Jesus?” There is a specific passage of scripture that Stearns uses to talk about poverty and who we are called to love in this world. Take a moment and read Matthew 25:31-46. It is a passage that those of us who have grown up in the church are all too familiar with. Now I will quote a section that Stearns shares as his paraphrase of this section:
For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.
Katie shared a story of a woman that she took in not too long ago that many of us would be scared of. The woman is an alcoholic and has a young daughter. When she is drunk she is a mean drunk. Katie shares that she doesn’t want to be foolish with inviting people into her home. She wants to shelter her children and keep them safe, but this woman was Jesus to her, and she needed help that could only come from Katie. It is story after story like this that draws me to how real her walk with Jesus is. Katie is constantly looking for the faces of Jesus in her day-to-day life. Mother Theresa once said, “You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.”
So I have to ask myself, “Who Is Jesus in my day-to-day life?” What is neat for my personal ministry is that God has blessed me with a partner in the gospel, my husband. I have been struggling and wrestling with growing in my faith and he is my listening ear. He is also my partner in learning more and growing through this time. Just recently, Missio Dei (a missions journal that Greg helps to publish) put out their second edition “Good News To the Poor”. Great reading if you want to look it up. There is often a man that sits on our corner (one house down from our doorway). He is homeless, probably not in his right mind. How many times have I looked his direction and immediately looked the other way? He is a face of Jesus right outside my doorway.
Our library program in Porvenir has a family of five siblings that come regularly. Their parents are alcoholics. They smell because they don’t bathe very often. Their clothing and shoes are tattered. Many times their behavior is of the sort that I would rather them not be at the event than constantly have to discipline them. But you know what? They are 5 faces of Jesus that I am blessed to interact with every Saturday. I can think of face after face of who Jesus is in my daily life. I am ashamed to say that I have ignored Jesus for too long.
I won’t go into detail what I have done with the faces I shared above, but let’s just say that God has changed me, and I am actually doing more than just thinking. Who is Jesus in your life? Go find him. I will leave you with two quotes: