“Que o Deus da esperança os encha de toda alegria e paz, por sua confiança nele, para que vocês transbordem de esperança, pelo poder do Espírito Santo” (Romanos 15.13)
Spending Time Together
“…Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them…” (John 3:22)
This seemingly insignificant verse can be easily passed through without a thought. There is, however, a promised presence that must not be missed! The Greek (the original language of the New Testament) for “spent some time with them,” is “diatrebo.” It means, to rub-off against. Jesus was intensionally meeting with his followers to rub his character onto them, closely demonstrating God’s way to live in the health of His daily hope.
Likewise, this is how we are called to make disciples in Brazil, and around the world! We are to be everyday believers, allowing Jesus to get close to us. So close, in fact, he literally rubs himself off on us, even as we are rubbing off on others through the daily routines of life. As diatrebo-disciples of Jesus, our lives are no longer our own, freeing us from the world’s fear-filled expectations of life. How about that for contagious Christianity that spreads and mutiliples!
Please soak that in, because all around the world today people are being strongly encouraged, even ordered, to comply to medical safety pleas to stay inside and away from people. The term being used is “social distancing.” While Christians are being reminded to “love your neighbor as yourself” by keeping distance to help everyone stay healthy, you probably join me in some concern over what the long-term effects of isolation might be. Not necessarily the medical affects of an enemy that thinks its “the king” with a name of “crown-virus,” but the aftermath of when the disease is vaccinated, yet still contaminates with a crippling fear of dis-ease. I’m speaking to a post-virus affect where the enemy is allowed to lie, steal and destroy souls from daily trusting Jesus as “the king!” I’m speaking to the fear of lacking. Lacking for ever-lasting salvation over death, lacking comfort, finances, convenience, food…even toilet paper! Such fear builds distance between ourselves, others, and God’s providing love which is ours in Christ Jesus!
That’s why the good news for our world-wide pandemic in this season of Easter, is that Jesus doesn’t practice social distancing for the sake of health in the manner we might think. Indeed, he promotes the opposite. Jesus advocates for us to pick up our crosses and closely follow him as he goes into every dark and hurting place (in us, and around us) with his dark-busting light of God’s healing hope. In doing so, Jesus rubs off on us while he is robbing the robber who is seeking to steal our Jesus-joy.
Friends, as we continually learn to trust Jesus and obey him, we are loving God and our neighbors with a different kind of promotion for good health— the kind where Faith in Christ’s Cross Victory, Conquers the Fear of Coronas’ Virus and every other dis-ease that comes with it. Let this be the Church’s finest hour, as we diatrebo hope and healing into a world that desperately needs the Gospel!
The Rev. Dan Clites serves LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) as its Coordinator for Church Planting Development. Dan lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.