Friday, January 6, 2012

Leading from Jesus' Presence

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. —Matt. 9:20-22

Most often when we talk about this passage we focus on the words of Jesus to the woman about her faith. We then discuss our need to have faith like hers. I wholeheartedly agree, but I'd like to step back and experience this story a different way. The precondition to this woman reaching out to touch his cloak is that fact that Jesus was present that day. In fact, it could be argued that these stories in chapter 9 of Matthew are not really about the responses of the various individuals but about the one to whom they are responding. We so often turn stories like that of the woman with the "issue of blood" into mini-moral lessons that we miss the primary point. JESUS, THE MESSIAH, WAS PRESENT.

When I think about church gatherings, from small groups to large worship settings, from groups of three that meet to discuss life to weekly church worship, we measure a lot of different things to determine if we are on track. After small group meetings, we reflect on how the discussion went, who took it off track, whether or not people were transparent, was the food ok. But do we reflect on whether or not we recognized the presence of Jesus. Did we experience him in the midst of our group? Did he, through the leading of the Spirit, guide us to go in a different direction that we thought. Don't worry, I'm not saying that we need to all become "charismatic." I've been a part of charismatic small group meetings that follow their own kind of small group formula that misses his presence too.

I challenge you to go to your next small group meeting with this one goal in mind: meet with Jesus. I'm not saying you don't need to prepare the other things also. But focus on how the group members might open their eyes to his presence. A few ways might include:
  • sitting in silence, 
  • talking with him like he is in the room
  • eating a meal together
  • sharing communion
  • share stories of what God has been doing in your lives
It helps if you enlist a couple of other people to prepare their hearts to meet with Jesus ahead of time. Maybe talk about this in your next meeting and see where it goes. Small group meeting can be more than Bible studies.

1 comment:

Mike Mack said...

Great post, Scott. I think people need to learn how to meet with Jesus, and about the only way to do that is to meet with Jesus! I love that you say we ought to measure how our groups are doing at this first, above a lot of other things. I wholeheartedly agree. This is VITAL! Keep up the great posts, Scott!