Think about what makes us who we are. If we regularly welcome people into our homes, what brings that out in us? If we identify with a certain social group, is there a reason we gravitate that direction?
In Matthew 5:7, Jesus spoke from the mount to a gathering of people who soaked up his every word. When he said to them, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy,” he pinned them right in the core of who they were.
Many years ago, I went with my mother to visit the gravesite of her twin sons who had died at an early age decades before. They were born many years before I came along, and I only knew of them through pictures and anecdotal stories. When we reached the gravesite, I asked her if visiting the grave brought back many memories. She turned to me without a word, and tears were running down her face.
Over the years she made a personal ministry of searching out those who had lost loved ones, working to ease that time for them. When I asked her why she went to all that trouble, she told me that she felt her experience gave her an affinity for those people, and she understood their pain as only one who has lost a child can.
She made her loss into a ministry to help other people in a like situation.
The people to whom Jesus spoke were from a stratum of society that knew what it was to need help from others. Their lives were filled with mistakes, abusive overlords, and worldly situations over which they had no control. When the occasional time of bounty came their way, they were quick to understand what it meant to be in need, and they were quick to share. In return, they hoped others would do the same.
In our lives, it is easy to insulate ourselves from the realities of those around us. Our bills are automated, we use the self-check aisle at the supermarket, and we drive through the bank, never interacting with more than the teller’s voice. We may email our neighbors, rather than take the time to walk next door. Now, even church comes into our homes, and we never have to shake another hand ever again.
God wants us to maintain the connection that draws his body together. Jesus said that blessed are the merciful, but we can take it further. Blessed are those who host a church gathering, for they will be invited to others’ houses. Blessed are those who invite visitors to lunch, for they will make new friends. Blessed are those who pray for those in need, for others will hold them up in prayer.
Yet this does not mean to congregate with only those of like mind. It means that if we congregate, we will become of like mind.
If we want to find Jesus in ourselves, look for Jesus in others. Then spend time with those people, and soon Jesus will be all that people see in us.
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