Monday, September 21, 2009


In "God in the Alley," Toronto's Greg Paul describes the two sides of incarnational ministry

CRITICAL BREAKTHROUGH.  Greg Paul ministers among the toughest neighborhoods and neighbors of Toronto.  There, he encountered a difficult man named Neil.  Working with Neil over time, Greg experienced a critical breakthrough in his perception of ministry.  Greg knew that he was supposed to “be Jesus” to Neil, but he discovered that Neil was Jesus to him, too.  He was not only to “be Jesus” to Neil, but “see Jesus” in and through Neil.  Greg talks about this two-way perception of grace bearing in God in the Alley, a book my Wednesday morning small group at Unleavened Bread Café is currently discussing together.  I’ve lifted a quote from one page to highlight the distinction of “being Jesus” and “seeing Jesus” for further reflection.  Let me know how you see this at work in your service or ministry.

BEING AND SEEING JESUS.  "Being Jesus is a discipline of action.  If I truly want to be present as Jesus was and is, I must choose to act in very specific ways.  Theory, or doctrinal correctness, is not enough.  Seeing Jesus is a discipline of stillness. If I really want to see him, I'll need to avoid being consumed by trying always to do things in his name, and I'll need to learn to be motionless, intent on beholding what is in front of me.

TENSION AND BENEFIT.  "These two disciplines are often in tension with each other; it's difficult to be still and active at the same time.  But they strengthen different sets of spiritual muscles, and each discipline ultimately benefits the other.

BEING PRESENT BUT HIDDEN.  "Being Jesus requires that I choose to be actively present.  Seeing him means that, paradoxically, in my being present, I must choose the stillness of being hidden--that is, rather than being focused on what I am doing, and seeking attention for it, I must be actively looking to see how Jesus is presenting himself in and through others.

POWER OF ABANDONMENT. "Being present the way Jesus was means that I have to abandon my own power.  And seeing him in others teaches me the power of abandonment.  Being Jesus is a call to give my life, as he himself indicated when he called us to pick up our crosses.  But seeing Jesus opens me up to a new way to live, to a resurrected life.

INTRINSICALLY CONNECTED.  "Being and seeing Jesus is intrinsically connected.  In fact, they're often happening at the same time."

From God in the Alley: Being and Seeing Jesus in a Broken World,  WaterBrook Press, 2004

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