If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
—I Corinthians 12:26
While we live in a world fraught with tremendous need and change, it is often easy for many of us to go into either the fix-it mode, ignore-it mode, or the more common just-look-the-other-way (avoidance) mode. If we can’t fix it (which is often the case), we usually resort to one of these other two modes of functioning. It is often uncomfortable and quite challenging to immerse oneself into the sea of humanity around us that is floundering, flailing, and on the verge of drowning from life circumstances, and just be present with them. Most of us would probably just like to sit under a palm tree and look out at the ‘sea’, rather than get into it; especially when so often there is a raging storm all around… drugs, alcohol, violence, abuse, neglect, sickness, depression, money problems, sexual immorality, unfaithfulness, hatred, jealousy, stealing, lying, cheating, poverty, starvation, sexual slavery, children soldiers, orphaned and abandoned children, and this list could go on and on. (Sorry for being a downer.) I mean, isn’t it hard enough for each of us to try to just swim through this storm on our own. Do we really need to be presently involved in this ‘sea’ of people and circumstances around us; especially if we can’t fix it?
One of my favorite attributes of Jesus was His willingness and desire to be present among the people. Jesus chose, more often than not, to be with the lower class of society… bringing hope, light, and love to prostitutes, tax-collectors, beggars, lepers, and sinners. When Jesus saw the ‘sea’ around Him, and the raging storms of life, instead of retreating under a palm tree and watching from afar or ignoring all that was around Him, Jesus entered the waters of life, got into the ‘sea’ of humanity, and swam with the people who really needed someone. With the name that Jesus had made for himself, through His miracles and tremendous love, He could have been partying at all the poolside parties and black tie events. Instead we see Him at a well with a wounded woman who needed hope, kneeling down to write something in the sand and pardoning an adulteress woman – challenging her to a life of holiness, poolside healing a cripple, calling the children to Himself and hugging and holding them, strolling across a raging sea to build faith in His followers, weeping with His loved ones over a dead man that He knew would soon come walking out of the grave, praying and eating with many on hillsides next to the lake, in small upper rooms, and in homes of tax-collectors and sinners, and this list could go on and on.
Jesus suffered with the suffering and rejoiced with those rejoicing. Jesus did this by being present in time and space. The story of Lazarus is honestly one my favorites. In it Jesus demonstrates for us one of the most powerful examples of the call of I Corinthians 12:26. In that story we read that Jesus already knew that He would be raising Lazarus from the dead. But as He looked around Him at His dear friends and saw their weeping and grief, Jesus does one of the most powerful things… He models for us what it is to be present. He joins in the weeping and grieving of lost life, though He knows that it will only be momentary. Did you catch that? He, the Son of God, joined in and became present with the grieving and weeping loved ones. Reality was that He knew that Lazarus would be restored to life, but an immensely powerful attribute of God, demonstrated in Christ Jesus is that He chose to remain present in the storm and sea, and wait it out.
I want to be like Jesus. Abogar International Ministries longs to be like Jesus. We want to be present, in the storms and sea of life, in death, in life, in trial and in triumph. When a part of the body grieves, let’s be more intentional to grieve with them. As a part of the body rejoices, lets celebrate and rejoice with them! And may our presence bear the power and presence of Jesus Christ to this very needy and hurting world!