Where is God?
Where is God?
This is a genuine question. You can drive down any main street and find 10 different churches from 5 different traditions. Which building houses God on Sunday morning? Is God with the homeless or is God with the wealthy? Is God with the sick or is He with the healthy? unintentional rhyme.
One of my favorite stories about Jesus is in John 5. There is a Jewish festival taking place in Jerusalem, which means masses of people are flocking to the temple to "see" God. God is in his resting place and people have come from all around, some taking month long trips, to show him honor and praise.
The story then zooms out of the hustle and bustle of the temple and back in to a small pool just outside the temple gates called Bathesda. There are a lot of things to see at this pool. Like the temple, this pool is packed with people, but a different sort. These people are lame and crippled. Some are moaning in pain, others laying in silence trying to preserve whatever energy they can for when the pool stirs.
This is a special pool.
When the water stirred due to an underground spring, the people here believed this was the activity of angels dipping their wings in the water. The common belief of the time was that the first in the pool after this happened would be healed of their ailment. And the story zooms in one notch closer to a lame man of 38 years who had no hope.
Due to his inability to walk, there was no chance that this man would make it to the pool before the others. In his mind, he was stuck in his inability. Often time I am overwhelmed with a similiar feeling. Truly not to the magnitude this man felt, but often I feel hopeless. As if the circumstances I am in define who I am or what I am able to do. When I find myself in a place of hopelessness I have to look outside of myself.
In the midst of this man's hopeless state, Jesus arrived. Jesus always has a way of wading into our life when we are at our weakest, darkest, dreariest state. Walking through and over the blind, lame, and the paralyzed Jesus makes his way to this man and asks him a question we all need to hear: Do you want to get well?
Jesus is not in the business of fixing our bodies. Jesus is in the business of fixing our hearts. Many times in his ministry the former was a result of the latter, but Jesus always seeks transformation of people's hearts. That's why I can confidently say Jesus' question transcends mere physical wellness. Jesus is restoring the world and he is doing that by restoring people's hearts.
Do you want to get well?
Here is why this is one of my favorite stories. At the beginning of the chapter the readers are informed that there is a Jewish festival taking place. As discussed, this mean't that masses of people were headed to the temple to see God. But where is God in this story?
God is walking in the form of Jesus with the weak, the hurting, the outcast, the hopeless. Often times we look to find God in the wrong places. God does not wait for us to come visit him on Sunday morning in our church building. No, God is active in your community. God is with his people. If you want to find God, try taking a walk with the 'least of these.' Jesus is in the business of changing hearts. Does he need to change yours?
This is not an 'antichurch' rant! In fact, I think gathering as a community of believers has powerful significance. Rather, this is a reminder that God is not just active in our church buildings, but everywhere in His creation. Yes, even within you. You are a piece of God's creation and you play a significant role in this world.
God is with you.
I hope that brings to you the same level of joy and comfort it brings me.