While wandering through the mall the other day I shook my head at the burgeoning amount of Christmas decorations, sales, and advertising. Everywhere I turned I was confronted with red and green bows, trees decked out in holiday glitter, and faux gifts placed in just about every available space one could find. Each and every billboard or store window begged for attention as they advertised the latest and greatest toys, clothes, & electronics that would make the greatest present this holiday season. In the midst of it all, it seems that we have lost the whole idea of sharing our “presence” in our search for the perfect “presents.”
Lately I have been reflecting on what it means for us as believers to have presence in the lives of those around us. In turning to scripture, I think the power of presence is perhaps best expressed in the verse,
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:23 NIV)
Of all the things that He could have given us, from the cattle on a thousand hills to the wealth of Solomon, God chose to give us Jesus. He chose to be God with us. He is God incarnate and in this, he sets a powerful example for us to follow as he shows us the true power of presence.
While it is true that we see Jesus in the synagogues throughout most of the gospels, it is equally true that we find Him outside of the holy places walking the same dusty roads as those around Him. He sits down to rest by a lonely well and befriends a broken woman. He gets His hands dirty healing a blind man. He weeps at the loss of a friend. He eats with the sinners and He welcomes little children. He offers His presence to those around Him and then “does life with them.” He even does life with those who do not believe in Him and amazingly enough, He treats them the same way He treats those who do believe in Him. He treats them as friends.
So what does it look like for us today to live as incarnations of Jesus? Simply put, I think it means being who He has called us to be where He has called us to be. Instead of us trying to bring people to a church building, we need to understand that we are the church and have a presence in the world around us. We need to take a class, play on a team, go for a coffee and have the neighbor over. We need to leave the building and venture out where we can bring light and hope to people who are looking for someone to live out the love of Jesus in front of them. And who knows, perhaps the present most wanted by those on your shopping list this Christmas season is simply to spend time with you and in your presence…