By Carey Helmink
I recently finished reading the book Watch by Rick James. It is a great read–very thought-provoking in a lot of ways. The subtitle of the book is “wide awake faith in a world fast asleep.”
In one of the chapters, James talks about being attentive to the presence of Jesus in our lives. To illustrate his point, he tells the story of being asked to give an evangelistic talk at the University of CA, Irvine. The crowd was fairly antagonistic, and when he started to sense that some people were getting pretty agitated, he tried to wrap things up. He told the audience if they wanted to talk more, they could come and chat with him personally.
Listen to his words as he continues the story:
“That wasn’t a good idea. The . . . students didn’t go anywhere . . . they just circled around me. They were extremely worked up over my mention of the Trinity, a foundational Christian doctrine. . . . Well, agitation turned to anger, and I wondered if it would be just a little bit embarrassing to show up in heaven having been martyred in Venice Beach, California – ‘Well done, tanned and faithful servant.’
I had no idea what to say until I remembered something important: The resurrected Christ lives in me.
So I said (not out loud or anything), ‘Jesus, what do you want me to say?’ And then . . . I just knew. I grabbed the young man’s finger that was pointed in my face and I gently and lovingly broke it. I’m joking; I gently held it and said to him, with all the compassion of God: ‘It’s okay, brother, it’s okay, really, it’s okay.’ And everything turned calm . . . and the angry students weren’t angry anymore. And a few at a time, they just quietly walked away. In the truest sense, they had seen a Ghost.
The gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . and now Jesus gets to live his resurrected life through us. I get his body; he gets mine.
With this awareness my interior monologue turns to a dialogue: ‘Jesus, what should we do right now?’ This is what was so unhelpful about the idea of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). If you’re thinking about Jesus in the third person, you’ve already missed the point. The critical shift of attention is in going from WWJD to JWSWD (Jesus, What Should We do?) –changing our internal narrative from third person to first, from thoughts about God to a conversation with him.”
JWSWD – Jesus, What Should We Do?
That is such a great reminder to me. I know that God is always with me, that he walks with me through fear and heartache and struggle, that his thoughts are always turned toward me, that he prays on my behalf –even when I don’t know what to pray for.
But sometimes I forget that the living presence of Christ within me has an agenda. He has plans for my day, has people for me to interact with, people for me to share the gospel with or forgive or encourage and sometimes those plans are not MY plans.
In fact, left to my own devices, those would rarely be my plans.
In Acts 8 we see a beautiful example as Phillip responds to the Spirit’s promptings, even when he had no idea where the Lord was sending him. Once he got into the conversation with the Ethiopian, however, he just “ran with it” until the Spirit sent him to his next assignment. I love this because we don’t have to ask Jesus about every single move we make but we do want to be ready when he asks us to move.
That same Spirit lives and breathes in you and me if we have a relationship with Jesus.
In Romans 13:14, Paul encourages us to “clothe ourselves in the presence of Jesus”. Even though Christ already lives within us we still need the reminder to respond to it with listening ears and hearts that are ready to do what he wants us to do.
“Above and below me,
Before and behind me,
In every eye that sees me,
Christ be all around me.
May God be everywhere I go…”