In the Look at Jesus gospel immersion course I’m teaching right now, we’re enjoying the privilege of doing just what the course title suggests: looking at Jesus. And when I look at Jesus, I can’t help but fall in love.
Here is God, hanging around on earth with all kinds of people full of earth and grit. And he doesn’t recoil. Instead, he touches them. He invites them to share his meals. He takes time each day to teach them about the kingdom of God and spends vast amounts of time healing their battered and broken bodies.
In short, he shows us that God is about coming to where we are and being with us. And not just being with us, but giving us more than we had before.
When I first began learning this aspect of Jesus — I mean, really getting that it was true — I fell completely in love with him. Never had I experienced such love and acceptance. Jesus comes to me. He doesn’t expect me to come to where he is.
What’s more, I noticed that we moved. If I was laying on the floor, curled up in a ball, Jesus met me there. He didn’t hurry me off the floor. He didn’t condemn me for being there. He met me.
But eventually, I did sit up. Or stand up. Or walk. Or move around.
I learned, through an ongoing process of experiencing this over and over, that Jesus moves with me at a pace that is natural and required to bring about my growth. It’s not forced, but it does happen.
I’ve also learned along the way that there’s a point when something shifts.
After a time of being with Jesus in this way, being built up inside his love, becoming rooted and established in it, receiving all the love and acceptance he has to offer, the natural course of events begins to push us outward.
We go forth into a new territory, and in that territory, we are much less focused on ourselves.
It’s not so much about Jeus meeting us where we are anymore (although that will always continue to happen throughout our lives as we keep growing). Instead, it’s about us meeting other people where they are, just like Christ met us. And it’s about venturing out to meet God at our own initiative, too.
It’s about loving God and loving neighbor. And it starts to just happen.
I think this happens because of the love of Christ compels us.
When we truly experience love, it roots us down, and that gives us the strength and room to grow branches outward. We start to grow outward, much less focused on the inner work of growing down roots from a tiny seed, because that’s what we were ultimately made to do.
But it’s a process, and each stage of that process is necessary and beautiful.
Where in the process are you?