If you could meet Jesus face to face, what one question would you ask? Yesterday Tom and I worshiped at Linworth United Methodist Church with John and Jackie and about 400 other people. The church was packed. Despite two new pastors, a worship time change, and the end-of-summer low attendance disease that afflicts many churches, Linworth is growing and thriving with lots of young people in their 20’s and 30’s and plenty of noisy children. I love it! Two things really spoke to me in this particular service.
First, the last time we were at Linworth, the praise band sang the song “Our Father” and it moved me so much I wrote about it in the blog. This Sunday they played the same song again. Is that a hint, God? After the blog post in July I heard from two friends who told me how much that post had inspired them. One is my friend Wendy who had the opportunity (as she puts it) to assume legal responsibility for a disabled cousin and took it because she decided it was her way of saying yes to God and doing his will here. Her summer has been consumed with it as she tries to get her cousin into an affordable senior living placement. The other friend is Pam who takes care of a friend with Alzheimer’s – not a relative – but a sister of her heart. She does it with more love and patience than I would ever have. Again, it has taken her entire summer and sometimes means she doesn’t get enough sleep, but she does it with a glad heart, grateful to be able to see God’s kingdom coming here. Wendy and Pam (and so many others intent on doing God’s will in their lives): you inspire me. You help me see God every day. What a blessing you are to me and those for whom you care.
The second thing that really spoke to me in the worship service was the beginning of the sermon – the place I got stuck this week. I’m not a very good listener to sermons. I used to say that is why I became a preacher. But I’m trying to listen with my heart and through the Holy Spirit and I get something good out of every sermon I hear. So yesterday the new Associate Pastor Matt Yoder told us the story of Nicodemus and the one question Nicodemus got to ask Jesus, “How can someone be born when they are old?” (see John 3:1-21). This question leads to John 3:16, the best-known verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Pastor Matt asked us, “If you could ask Jesus one question, what would it be?” What question would you ask Jesus? I used to have a list of questions I was going to ask when I got to heaven (yes, a real list). However, after years of ministry I gave up on the list, trusting that God understands what is going on so much better than I do. I still have some questions, usually related to specific situations where I think the suffering of a particular person is too much or too hard. Yet I see these suffering people shining through in their faith in glorious ways. Sometimes I have the fleeting thought that God is not fair, but I know that if God were fair, none of us would ever receive grace or eternal life.
So what one question would I ask Jesus if I had the chance to meet him face to face like Nicodemus? After thinking about it all through yesterday and praying on it for a while, I think the one question I would ask would be “What can I do for you today?” Of course, this is the very question I ask every morning during my prayer time – and it relates to the first thing that spoke to me in the service yesterday. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done here. Lord, let me be an instrument of your kingdom. What can I do for you today? Here? Now? Direct my directions, help me walk in the paths that are pleasing to you, and lead my thoughts, words and deeds so that they are a piece of your kingdom here. Give me strength and courage for whatever journey we undertake.
If you could see Jesus face to face, what one question would you ask Jesus?