Have you ever moved back into your old neighborhood? If you have, presumably the good outweighs the bad because you know what to expect the second time around. Do you know that is exactly what Jesus did? Having already experienced our human existence, having already been brutalized and killed, and following His resurrection and ascension, He moved back into the old neighborhood. This time He lives on in you and me. He must have seen something good! He had a reason for moving in.
Think of the things we endure and experience as human beings. We have moments of joy and happiness, but we are also afflicted in every way with things like sorrow, illness, trials and death (2 Cor. 4:8). You might say that the human body is not an ideal neighborhood, nonetheless Jesus has moved back in.
With full knowledge of all of the many afflictions of humanness, and with the choice of dwelling anywhere in creation, Jesus still chose the fleshly existence of a human being as His dwelling place here on earth. He chose you and me. Why did He move back in? That answer is simple; the old neighborhood needed to be revitalized. To do this, He needs the help of everyone in the neighborhood. Can He count on us?
Before we jump in to help, on this sure to be daunting neighborhood revitalization project, we might need a little pep talk and St. Paul gives that to us. Paul gives us hope when he tells us we are perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not abandoned and struck down but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8-9)
Assured by this message of hope, we prepare ourselves to follow the direction of Jesus who is carpenter in chief on this project. So what do we need to do to restore the old neighborhood? Paul tells us that we should constantly give ourselves up to death for the sake of Jesus. In other words, we must forsake the comfort of our home and place the needs of others ahead of ours. We must die to self so that others can experience a Christ designed planned community of eternal happiness and joy.
In this big world of ours there are many people suffering without the hope that Paul tells us in found in Jesus. We are called to bring Jesus to them. If Jesus is to be manifested to others through our mortal flesh, then we must first put on the safety equipment of the Holy Spirit, and fill our tool belts with prayer and head out to the project.
Right next door or just down the street, if we look carefully enough, we will find one of our neighbors grieving the loss of a loved one or dealing with the pains of an illness. These people are desperately in need of a visitor bearing a kind word and hug.
More projects can be found by turning on the evening news, opening the daily paper or searching the internet for those in need. Poverty is all around us. Upon close examination we will discover that there are homeless and starving people just down the street. Prisoners sit isolated in our overflowing prisons, in dire need of you and I to bring them hope, forgiveness and love. We might even need to start in our own homes first, where cracks in our families have been caused by years of harsh words, inattention, indifference, and overall lack of communication.
Paul also tells us that when we do these things we do not do it for our own glory but rather, to bring glory to God. He wants us to bring the light of Christ into the darkness existing in the hearts our neighbors. (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
It is said that Christ has no hands and feet on earth but ours. He lives on in us, and through us He wants to be present to others. You and I, as apprentice carpenters, must follow the master’s lead. We must seek out those in our community who are in need of help. If we are to be Christ’s feet and hands, we must ask ourselves these two questions: If I am to be His feet, who will I go out to see today whose heart is in need of repair? As His hands we must ask ourselves what injustices need to be torn down and replaced by new structures that will reflect the loving beauty of God?
Perhaps we should add those two questions to our morning prayers. How we answer these questions might make a huge difference in someone’s life!
Let the revitalization project commence today!