As an intern, my mentor used to tell a story which has forever been ingrained in my mind. It subsequently helped mould my philosophy when it comes to discussing ‘Church’ — its relevancy and its desired shape for our modern, dynamic, cosmopolitan society.
After a stirring presentation to a group of young people, where some did not necessarily have a church background, the pastor asked one of the unchurched participants if he believed in any of the biblical truths he was expressing? His reply was, “I don’t believe in the Bible, but I believe in you. And because I believe in you, I know it must be true.”
As you read the book of Luke, you will see a similar trend, where the poor, the widows, the undermined women, the disabled and the foreigners may not have all believed or understood the principles of social justice. But, in front of them was a Jesus who championed their concerns, recognised their needs, defended their corner and, in doing so, made them feel significant.
So, in reading the Jesus story, you can understand that, with no internet, no Instagram or Facebook posts, or active Twitter accounts, the crowds who followed Jesus were not following a theological debate or an eschatological fulfilment. They abandoned all other teachers to follow a man filled with compassion, discernment, kindness, grace, forgiveness, healing and inclusion.
Because these characteristics and attributes are so magnetic and transformative to the human psyche, countless individuals would now look forward with newfound hope, passion and purpose, where once their lives were riddled with shame, legacy curses and darkness. That is what happens, as William McDowell would say, “when you walk into the room.”
I, like you, have worked in offices that have gone entirely silent when a miserable boss enters the fray. Grown adults with heavy parental responsibilities will go silent, as a manager in a lousy mood brings their cloud of frustration into the work environment. And as this person leaves the room, the atmosphere changes, transforms, as they take the cloud-of-their-bad-attitude out of the room with them.
What happens when you walk into a room? When people mention your name, who do they say that you are? Do they consider you a wonderful aroma or a horrid stench? You see, as ambassadors of Jesus, our qualification or the success of the mission is not solely numerical, but anchored on how we make people feel.
What was it like being around Jesus? Because, as a Jesus-follower, how Jesus made people feel is how being around you should feel. Do this. Be this. And you will never have to convince, persuade or debate biblical relevancy again, as they will see the truths living in you, emanating from your every pore, as they did in Jesus.