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One Place at One Time

By Michael Roop

This is part three in a five-part series on the lifestyle of Jesus. To catch up on previous posts in this series, click here.

I’m a sucker for irony, which is what has made writing this particular post so much fun. At this point, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been interrupted in the process of meditating and writing on the constant interruptibility of Jesus. From one of my sons waking up much earlier than expected, to the failure of noise cancelling headphones that were otherwise so reliable, to knocks on the door and phone calls from distressed congregants, I’ve chuckled at every step along the way.

As I continued my journey through the gospels, looking at the day-to-day life of Jesus, I couldn’t help but notice just how interruptible Jesus was. Perhaps the most stunning display comes in Matthew 9, when Jesus was interrupted in the middle of a debate about fasting (9:14-26). He up and left to go heal the daughter of the ruler who interrupted Him, when on the way He’s interrupted again by the touch of a desperate, chronically ill woman. At each point along the journey to His planned activity, Jesus had time to stop.

Upon reflection, I landed on this stunning realization: almost all of the noteworthy interactions in the gospels happened while Jesus was in the middle of, or on His way to, something else. In other words, Jesus was constantly interruptible. His mind and heart were wherever His body was, even if His body was on its way somewhere else. He always had eyes for how each moment could be used to glorify the Father by blessing the hurting, healing the sick, freeing the demonized, showing compassion to the outcast, and providing moments of teaching to His followers.

This led me to my second summary statement in reviewing the day-to-day life of Jesus: a radical physical, mental, and emotional presence is key to experiencing life in the easy yoke. The worst form of hurry is not a bloated calendar, not a meeting run long that begins a day that is constantly 15 minutes behind. It’s not traffic or getting the kids out the door to school. The worst form of hurry is a hurried soul. A state of being that is always worried about promptly arriving at the next place without ever fully occupying its current place.

Much in our increasingly digital, late modern world facilitates the separation of body and mind. Digital communication and social media allows us to act on our urge to be mentally absent from our physical location. The least generous explanation of this cultural phenomenon is an attempt to transcend our “very good” created nature - to be embodied creatures who are spatially limited. Much more generously, we’re coming to the prescribed ends of the formative practices we engaged without much critical thought.

So as I look to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus - the life of the easy yoke - I’m beginning to look for formative practices that bring my mind to where my body is, and to resist practices that take my mind somewhere else. I’m learning to enter spaces intentionally looking for unique opportunities to be Christ to those in need. To be fully present where I am, and never to forget that the people around me are the mission. To have times with no phone, no notifications, no screen. To get reacquainted with a touch of boredom. To create margin to experience and joy God’s constant presence with me.

The compassion of Christ led Him to be present among us in bodily form, to limit Himself physically just as we are physically limited, and yet still to bring the unending kingdom of God to this earth.
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