Carrying the presence of Jesus
Note from Rebecca Ribnick
I’m a book lover. Like any true book nerd, I love talking about books and adding titles to an ever-growing to-read list as much as actually reading. Currently I’m in the process of arranging part of my collection on some new shelves, a task often slowed by stopping to page through a volume, re-reading favorite passages or recalling when I first picked it up before actually putting it on the shelf.
Shelving a personal favorite, “The Chosen” by Chaim Potok, a story set in the Orthodox Jewish community of Brooklyn, reminded me of a moment with a cousin of mine from the Jewish side of my family. We were also shelving items, albeit not books but inventory, in the back room of our family’s retail store when our conversation turned to the concept of being chosen.
“What makes the Jewish people the chosen people?” I asked.
He thought a minute before responding. “The law, I guess.”
“No, the law doesn’t make the Jewish people chosen. Because we’re chosen we have the law,” I said.
He looked at me questioningly. “The Jewish people,” I continued, “were chosen to carry the presence of God.”
God’s presence among a people is what marked the Israelites as different from all the surrounding nations. In response to God’s threat to send the nation of Israel into the Promised Land without his presence, Moses, the great lawgiver himself, said, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).
Today this concept is not limited to those who specifically share genes with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to all of us who were called out of darkness into the light of Christ. The Bible calls all who believe in Jesus “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). Again, God choosing a specific people for his purposes begs we ask the question, what does it mean to be chosen?
We, those who carry the name of Jesus, are also called to carry his presence. We are to be the place on earth his glory dwells—the ever-increasing glory of an ever-growing Kingdom. The laws we keep, our moral compass, or our political opinions aren’t what mark us as different from others in our culture—nor are those the things that will arrest our culture’s attention.
Instead, what distinguishes us and stirs hunger in those around us is the presence of God himself. And wherever his presence is, surely there is goodness and life.
So what does it look like when God’s Presence is among us?
It looks like love.
It looks like being full to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and his fruit.
It looks like heaven coming to earth with the accompanying signs, wonders and miracles.
And it looks like radical hope in any and every situation.
I believe God is calling for his people to be known by who we are for instead of what we are against. To be known by the goodness and mercy that flows from life in communion with His Spirit. To keep our focus on the one thing that truly sets us apart—the very presence of God with us.
I encourage you to spend some time over the next few days asking God how to grow in graciously hosting his presence in the way we would host an honored guest in our homes and lives. Life with him is the main thing, so let’s redirect our focus to that one thing, knowing that as we put that first, all else will fall in place.