When I am doing well, but also when I am making a mess of things, I bring Jesus. When I am good and when I am bad. When the Spirit of God is obviously at work through me in bringing the love and mercy of God to others, and when I fall into the depths of sin, I bring Jesus.
I can do no other. It is who I am as a child of God. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I do it with Jesus because he has promised never to leave me. Jesus said, ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20) and, ‘I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you’ (John 14:20). St Paul writes, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:19f).
Jesus doesn’t leave us when we sin and fail. He remains with us even in our weaknesses and struggles.
I have this treasure in the broken vessel that I am. Yes, it is truly treasure, and one day my old nature will be done away with as I stand with you and all the people of God in his presence. Even now, as I am both old and new, my new nature is my true identity because it will continue forever. While it is true that I continue to sin, the fact that I am a child of God is my primary identity.
This means that the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing Jesus into and through my life is not a reward for my obedience. Jesus doesn’t leave us when we sin and fail. He remains with us even in our weaknesses and struggles.
Jesus comes along with me when I do the routine things, not just on special occasions. We are not Christians only when we are worshipping or praying. We live out our faith in our vocations, that is, in the things God calls us to do in the world. We are parents, children, neighbours, friends, workers, students and more. We also play sport, go to gyms, hang about in cafés and engage in other leisure activities. Everywhere we go and in everything we do, we bring Jesus. That is the nature of things. We can’t do anything else. Jesus lives in us and we are in him, so everywhere we go Jesus comes along. It is an ordinary, everyday reality.
That doesn’t mean we need to cram Jesus down everyone’s throat at every opportunity. In fact, in the first place it is more about who—and whose—we are, than about what we do. It is about our identity. It is part of our story which communicates who we are.
Friends are real with friends about what makes them tick. Personally, I enjoy carpentry and caravanning. My friends know this. I try not to be a bore about it. Sometimes they ask for help with fixing something. That’s good. Friends help each other.
My friends also know I am a disciple of Jesus. They may think of it as a hobby of mine. I wouldn’t put it that way, but that is okay. Once they get to know me as a friend and discover that I don’t appear to be a complete nut-job but that I have problems like everyone else, then we can be friends. Everyone needs friends. At the end of the day bringing Jesus to others is all about relationships. It is not about programs, as good and helpful as they may be. It is about the people of God developing genuine friendships with those who are not Christians.
God has also made me part of a Christian community or congregation, where we bring Jesus to one another. Bringing Jesus to the world is something that we do together with other Christians. We encourage and support one another, gathering together to worship, grow and pray for those who do not yet know the love of God in Jesus, the Messiah. We do that, not just as we gather in a building that is rather strangely called a church—after all, the church is actually a group of people—but also as we work to form Christian community out in the world.
Every neighbourhood or network needs clusters of friends that form authentic community that is inclusive of others. Our world is hungry for community that is real. And because we bring Jesus everywhere we go, Jesus naturally finds his way into conversations, and his blessing on us becomes a blessing for others.
Pastor Steen Olsen serves as the SA/NT Director for Mission and as a member of the LCA Board for Local Mission.