Being WITH is Not Enough: What Comes After “God With Us”

Mother and DaughterJesus came to be “God With Us.” He responded to our hopeless situation not by shouting truth at us, but by coming to be With Us. And when we connect with someone who is hurting we too must be with them instead of preaching at them.

Several of you responded to my article about “God With Us” last week.

But being With Us was just the beginning for Jesus. And it should be just the beginning for us.

The people who encountered Jesus could not help but be impacted by Him. His very presence called them to a different kind of life. And when they stopped long enough to hear His words their hearts burned within them. (See Luke 24:32)

Yes, the outcasts, the sick, the poor, those nobody else wanted were drawn to Jesus. He healed them, touched them, loved them, gave them hope. But being with them didn’t mean Jesus became like them and stayed with them in their misery. He called them to something more.

And He had something for those who were not so sick or broken. They too felt the call to something more, something perhaps harder and more dangerous than they ever imagined they could be a part of, something exhilarating and profound and alive.

Once Jesus is with us, He leads us out. He doesn’t simply soothe us in our brokenness, assuring us everything will be OK. Far from it! Instead, He goes before us leading the way to the greater thing He has called us to. (See John 10:4)

First He is With Us. Then He leads us out.

The order is important. We will not, cannot, follow Him until He is With Us.

But once He is With Us, we are called to follow Him. We cannot, dare not, stay the same. He calls us to a life of transformation, character growth, maturity, meaning, purpose, and service.

Both aspects are critical. Being With Us. And leading us out.

And as we seek to help others, the same two factors apply.

How We can Help Others

Too often Christians have focused on one of these factors to the detriment of the other.

Being with someone in need deteriorates into sappy sympathy if it stops there. And trying to lead others to a better life becomes harsh, ineffective, and preachy if it doesn’t begin by being with them.

I mentioned some examples of being with those in need last week. Being with hurting people is messy, hard, time-consuming, inconvenient, and doesn’t always turn out like we hoped. Without this step, however, we can’t be of any help.

And then we must be just as committed to helping to lead them out of their misery to a better life, the kind of life that Jesus wants for them.

Here’s what that can look like:

  • For the man or woman whose spouse has just left, it may mean walking with them as they learn painful lessons and struggle to develop a new identity as a single person.
  • For the parent whose child is broken and estranged, it may mean helping them learn to forgive and to parent wisely from afar while awaiting healing of the relationship.
  • For the one struggling with sexual identity, it may mean walking with them as they heal from rejection and struggle with the difficult journey of developing a new godly identity.
  • For the one fighting a battle with serious illness, it may mean practical and encouraging help over the long haul while helping them maximize a healthy lifestyle wherever possible.
  • For the parent or spouse or child whose loved one has died, it may mean gently but persistently staying involved through the grief process and helping them find the next purpose God has for them.

None of this is easy. In reality, it’s all incorporated in the “God With Us” idea. Being with us is not just comfort for a moment; it’s a commitment to stay with as He leads us out to a new life.

Sadly, some people aren’t interested in being led, in changing, in grasping ahold of the transformation God wants for them. They would prefer to stay in their misery.

For us, this means staying with someone long enough to help them reach the next part of what God has for them. It means stopping long enough to be with them, then taking them by the hand and saying, “Walk with me. We’re going to move forward together.”

When you do that, you’re being like Jesus. Some won’t respond, and prefer to remain miserable. But some will follow you as you follow Christ. There’s nothing more fulfilling than that!

Doesn’t that sound just the opposite of being preached at?

[reminder]Who have you taken time to be with? Now how can you help lead them to the next step in transformation?[/reminder]

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  • Once God is WITH US, He calls us to follow Him into a new life. Both parts are important.   Tweet that.