Today I am teaching a class called, “Diners, Delis, and Divine Opportunities: Practicing the Faithful Presence of Christ.” The class is about how God uses common people sharing common meals at common tables to change the world.
The class is based on my experiences as a minister of having deep conversations with people around meals and tables in all kinds of places. These experiences have taught me that the best way to make Jesus known to others is by practicing the faithful presence of Christ in the simplest of ways.
And if you think that idea sounds crazy or too simplistic, just review the ways that God changes people in Scripture and also consider how he has chosen to make his presence known to people through his church.
The story of Scripture tells us that Holy God changes the world by inhabiting common spaces and by being present with his people, who are made distinct by his presence. And Scripture tells us that God is moving the world toward a future reality that is defined by his uninhibited presence among his creation. And Scripture also tells us that the way God establishes his reign and rule is through a people who reveal God to other people by their presence in the world as the ambassadors of Christ.
So, if we, as Christians, truly want to make Jesus known in our community and if we truly want to see our friends and neighbors follow Jesus, then we need to have a fuller understanding of our role in the world as the faithful presence of Jesus to the world.
In his wonderful book, Faithful Presence, theologian David Fitch writes this: “So much of the world we live in today remains dark to the presence of God. The light of his presence seems not to have been turned on. How does God restore his presence over the whole earth? And what do we have to do with it? The Bible’s answer to this question is the church. God’s plan is to become present to the world in and through a people, and then invite the world to join with him. How does this happen? In the simplest terms, a group of people gather and become present to God…We participate in his work in the world, and his presence becomes visible. The world then sees God’s presence among us and through us and joins in with God. And the world is changed. This, I contend, is faithful presence. This is the church. And this is how God has chosen to change the world.”
Could it be that one of the most effective ways that Christ reveals himself is through Christians who are willing to sit with others at restaurant tables, kitchen tables, coffeehouses, and living rooms?