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Center for Action and Contemplation
Summary: Nothing Stands Alone
Summary: Nothing Stands Alone

Jesus’ Person-to-Person Ministry

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Richard writes about how Jesus’ ministry reveals that true conversion stems from relationship, not words; from experience, not belief:

The ego loves to use words, but the primary way we communicate “the reign of God is at hand” is by our presence. Jesus clearly modeled this. It seems that Jesus and his disciples took up residence in people’s homes and lived as closely as possible to the people. In their ministry, healing and preaching are so intertwined that we could say that there has been no real proclaiming of the kingdom, no authentic conversion, unless there is healing in some real sense.

Understandably, many of us have come to rely on an impersonal medium like the printed word. But the only way words can have any effect on our lives is if a person is coming across through this medium. When I am preaching, teaching, or writing, I have to try to give myself away; I have to let others encounter me in some real way. That’s the only experience that will make any of my words halfway believable. Jesus gave us words, but more significantly, he gave his “flesh” for the life of the world—in the way he lived and the way he died.

In Luke’s Gospel, all of Jesus’ rules of ministry—his “tips for the road”—are very interpersonal. They are based on putting people in touch with people. Person-to-person is the way the gospel was originally communicated. Person-in-love-with-person, person-respecting-person, person-forgiving-person, person-touching-person, person-crying-with-person, person-hugging-person: that’s where the Spirit is so beautifully present. [1]

Brian McLaren describes how Jesus’ invitation to participate in “God’s kingdom” impacts relationships, person by person:

The same thing happens with teachers, politicians, lawyers, engineers, and salespeople who take seriously their identity as participants in the kingdom of God. The way they teach, the way they develop public policies, the way they seek justice, the way they design and work with resources from God’s creation, the way they buy and sell—all of these are given dignity in the context of God’s kingdom, and soon, transformation begins to happen. After all, when you see your students, constituency, clients, or customers as people who are loved by God and as your fellow citizens in God’s kingdom, it becomes harder to rip them off or give them second best. And when enough people begin to live with that viewpoint, in little ways as well as big ones, over long periods of time, things truly change. . . .

Life for them now is about an interactive relationship—reconciled to God, reconciled to one another—and so they see their entire lives as an opportunity to make the beautiful music of God’s kingdom so that more and more people will be drawn into it, and so that the world will be changed by their growing influence. Everyone can have a role in this expanding kingdom. [2]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke: Spiritual Reflections (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1997), 140–141.

[2] Brian D. McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2006), 82, 83.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 05 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 12 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. NASA, Galaxy NGC 4013 (detail), 2020, United States, photograph, public domain. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: Infinitesimal. Massive. Incomprehensibly expansive. It is all connected: everything is a part of the whole, seen or unseen. Nothing stands alone.

Story from Our Community:

My grandparents and parents always spoke about the Holy Spirit as if it were at the dinner table with us—as commonly and casually as any friend or relative. The family expression of “just ask the Holy Spirit,” was used for problems, prayer requests, special intentions, and of course, gratitude. We all understood that the Holy Spirit was a breath of the Divine that lived among us. Some of my favorite moments with my grandmother began when she would say: “Let’s put on the kettle on.” I knew then that it was time to share our concerns, hopes, and sorrows together and that the Holy Spirit would accompany us in that conversation and connection. I believe this way of viewing the Holy Spirit has blessed several generations of our family by giving us a sense that our lives our constantly accompanied by the Divine.
—Martha M.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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